Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Indian Politics and Enterprise Architecture

Disclaimer: All characters and events in this blog – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional. Any resemblance between the characters in this blog and any persons, living or dead, is coincidental.. well almost.

Recently as an Enterprise Architect I had to evaluate three major software vendors for a huge deployment requiring multiple software components. The vendors evaluated here are:
  • CronGess Business Machine (CBM)
  • BhartiyaSoft Corpotration (BS)
  • Aam Software Foundation (ASF)

Below is the report on each of the vendors followed by recommendations:

CronGess Business Machine
They are the oldest software company around. Their roots go back to mainframe days. They were practically the largest software company in country for almost 5 decades. Unfortunately, the upper management of company did not keep up with the changing market and technology landscape.

The software company has grown so large that the top management has lost touch with its different BUs. Because of lack of company vision each VP/AVP is going its own way. The top job however has remained mostly within the family of co-founders of the company. Although the current CEO, an Oxford Alumni, is from outside the family but there have been allegations that the decision making still remained with the company president and the CEO is simply a puppet.

Great grandson of the co-founder Mr. R.O.Flandhy, who currently heads CBM marketing, is speculated to become the next CEO of the company. Leading experts have long pointed at his lack of qualifications and capabilities to take on the top job. Many large marketing events ended in fiasco because of his badly delivered keynote speeches. Latest being the interview given to major technology magazine Techie Times Now where he failed to explain what software his company develops and what is the roadmap. Although throughout the interview he kept repeating few catch phrases like software as service and big data for every question, even when asked color of sky and how many fingers are there in your hands.

Additionally because of the large bureaucratic structure any change in company has become dead slow. The technology is completely outdated, in the days of cloud computing they are trying to sell the same old softwares which were originally designed for Mainframes.

The softwares are no longer under active development and are ridden with annoying bugs. To top it all, the customer support is completely unsupportive. Any user reporting the bug is either ignored or threatened with police complaint for defaming the software. The company also tried to buy and shutdown public forums where users were found criticizing CBM Software products.

BhartiyaSoft Corporation
               They are commercial software company but have their roots in Freeware software offering by developer community Rashtriya Software Systems. Leading software experts have long alleged that BS products are engineered only for a certain OS community. The company management however has always denied the allegation and has stated that they view all Operating Systems as equal citizen. The company has proposed a uniform OS code, which saw diverse reactions from the technology analysts. While a few has hailed it as a step towards equal application development across all operating systems, while others have view point that maintaining OS specific libraries and separate codebase is better way to handle diverse OS landscape.

Back in 2002, the company got some bad publicity when bug in one of their software products led to large scale virus spread in user computers. This bug is now widely known as LiverBleed bug. There have been allegations that bug and virus spread was deliberate conspiracy by VP engineering of that product. The fact that install base on one OS class was more affected than the other is often cited by the CronGess Business Machine and other software companies to indicate that the bug/virus was deliberately engineered. Mr Nadella Moody who was the VP engineering at the time of LiverBleed bug has denied all allegations and called it a conspiracy to defame his product and company. He claims he tried his level best to control the spread of virus by engaging national anti-virus firms on day-2 itself.

Incidentally, Mr Moody has received many leadership and innovation awards for his product. BS Corporation has claimed 10 fold revenue increase and 100 fold increase in customer satisfaction, a claim widely contested by rival software firms and a few technology analysts. BS Corporation has proposed him as next CEO of the firm.

Supporters of the firm say that people should use BS products because they are tested and tried and have known to be “stable deployments”. While, critics have pointed out that the malware VHP and bJRnG.dll gets installed along with BS products and causes most of the BS issues. This malwares have known to affect mostly a specific OS class but at times they have known to affect what movies run in cinema halls and what books users want to read. BS Corporation also has a tie up with Software Sena Pvt Ltd for few software components, which forces users to buy unwanted components when installing any BS software suite. Other controversies include BS developers attacking developers of other software firms especially supporters of open source movement and at times painting black ink on face of college professors criticizing Mr Moody or BS.

Aam Software Foundation
ASF, most recent entrant in market, is an open source software company who claim to revolutionize the technology usage by providing all the high tech softwares at affordable price to all users. ASF has proposed to completely redesign the way software deployments are architected currently. ASF relies heavily on user commits to its code base as well as user donations to keep company running. ASF management says they want to keep the company user driven and have therefore avoided involving VCs and large private equity funds so far.

ASF drew wide range of reactions; while some users and software experts hailed them for revolutionizing the software landscape grounds up, some labeled them as unpractical idealist, whereas some of technology experts have dismissed them as anarchist programmer movement who will destroy the whole software industry, the economy, the sun, the moon, the stars and all that is good and holy in this world.

ASF has been facing many challenges:

Being an open source platform anyone is free to join in and contribute in the development. At times, some developers made bad commits and broke the core functionality. The ASF in their official blog have distanced themselves from these unwanted builds and have since fixed/rolled back the unwanted changes.

Due to less documentation available sometimes users are left clueless on the product features and product roadmap. Although volunteer driven developer forums have known to be very active but still they have hard time matching up to commercial softwares.

Last big deployment of ASF software crashed in 49 days. This deployment included integration with other commercial products from BS Corporation and CronGess Business Machines as well. Critics have alleged that this crash was caused because ASF products could not handle the data load. ASF core team has however denied the allegation and said the crash was caused because of incompatibility and unresponsive products from BS and CBM.

Large rival corporations have been pumping lot of money into marketing and bad publicity of open source pointing out that open source cannot match the stability that their proprietary closed source products can offer.

Recommendations:

In my opinion CronGess needs a serious organizational revamp from top management to bottom. Once they have a better leadership in place they should re-evaluate their product offerings and refresh them as per current technology landscape and requirements. So for near future they are not an option to consider.

Although currently the ASF’s open source offering is still under active development (version 1.0 GA just released few months back) we need to keep an eye on long term benefits of adopting open source. Open source softwares have known to get stable over a period of time and have additional advantages like greater user participation and adherence to open standards. ASF also need to come up with a better quality check so that any random contributor is not able to break their core feature.

BS needs to better ensure that other malwares will not be installed. BS also needs to do away all third party components like SS which have in past caused issues. BS developers need to take a few classes on anger management and self discipline.

For the upcoming deployments, there has to be a balance between:
  • Current Stability Vs Long term vision
  • Proprietary Vs Open standards
  • Malware/Unwanted component packages Vs Flexible best of breed approach

Keeping in view above reasons it is highly recommended that we use a mix of proprietary software component along with best of open source components. Keeping the ASF's open source movement alive will keep BS and other companies in competitive mode, ultimately benefiting the user community.

Credits: Disclaimer note at the top is partly taken from Southpark.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chakku Ka Chakravyuh

The situation goes like this, it’s the last week of the month and I need to get a paper signed by my mentor for sanction of my stipend. And this marks the start to grueling exercise to break the code which we DuDeS like to call “Chakku Ka Chakravyuh

Day-1:
Knock Knock! “May I get in sir?”
“Yes, Come in”
I open the door and a cloud of cigarette smoke comes out. Controlling the urge to cough I step in.
“YOU!!... get lost I don’t even want to see your face, what do you think of yourself, you will come whenever you want and I’ll be waiting for you.”O boy there you go again.
"Where were you all the days?"Huh! Like I’ll tell you the truth that I had been sleeping in my room, watching movies and pumping iron at Gold gym.
“I don’t want to guide such an insincere student… Just get out now..”And I returned without getting his autograph, in fact without even having a single word being said about it.
Are you thinking my plan flopped? Hell no. This was the step 1 to break “Chakku ka Chakravyuh”, this is how you reduce the pressure from a pressure cooker make it whistle, make it spit out some of the hot steam.

Day-2:
Knock Knock! (I don’t utter a single word coz my voice might upset his mood)
“yes”I take a deep breath to dive in ocean of cigarette smoke.
Lord chakku see me from the corner of his eye but this time he doesn’t say anything or even looks up. He shows like he is not aware that it’s me in his room.
“Sir, I wanted to discuss this research paper.” Note the technique; I don’t mention a word about scholarship form.
Then I take a deep breath and start “It talks about Multi user interference and Multipath Interference for Direct Sequence and Time Hopping UWB and compares the results for Optimal and Suboptimal receivers”, only to stop for taking another breath before my lungs run out of oxygen. I continue saying some sentences which I could remember from the abstract of that paper, having read just before entering the room. During all this time he doesn’t look up, continues to read some book, showing complete indifference to me.
Then I pause, waiting for the cooker’s second wistle.
This time it’s lesser in intensity, “Do you think I don’t have anything else to do but to wait for you to come and then discuss your project. I have three second year M.Tech students, three first year M.techs, four B.tech students and all of these are regular and sincere to their work, main unko pehle time dunga ya aapse discuss karu jinka pichle bees pachchis din se kuch pata hi nahi hai”Man to kar raha tha ki bol dun, vo saale sab ghissu hain to unke kiye ki saja hume kyun mil rahi hai
“Aur vo aapke do dost kahan hain, dual degree vale apne apko pata nahi kya samajhte hain”As expected my other two “Chakku bros” also didn’t meet him, lately DuDeS (dual degree students) had become some sort of common villains for all Profs in my dept.
“I don’t have time now, come later”
And I come back without sign again.

Day-3:
In chakku’s den.
This time he speaks, he doesn’t shout, he just says “Abhi to main bahut busy hoon, I have to finish this whatever-whatever report, then there is this meeting in senate…” He goes on to tell more about his tight schedule.. “..DUGC..” “..Senate..” “..something-something evaluation..” etc etc.
“ek kam kariye, come on Thursday.. not in noon.. hmm.. aap aaiye sham ko 7.30 baje”
7.30 in evening!! WTF!! What kind of time is that? But with chakku you have to expect the unexpected.

Day-4:
After he reads the research paper in 2 mins, which I read for more than an hour and asks me some questions, not to test me but just out of curiousity.. “…what code are they using for spreading?..” “..how many fingers does their RAKE receiver has?”
Shit! I didn’t remember if there was any mention of these things in the paper..
“Sir, they haven’t mentioned anything about it”
He’ll open a page in paper n start reading some para which I probably skiped coz it was too boring.
“ye kya likha hai.. theek se padhte to ho nahi.. aur chale aate ho..”
Here we go again, the lecture starts again and my brain goes into power saving mode, now I was just standing with my head down, without trying to listen at all, however occasionally nodding my head like I was totally listening.
All I could hear was some words occasionally “.. dedication… M.Tech..sincere... dual degree.. insincere.. expectations… JEE.. talent.. waste.. bad.. not good.. disappointed…” etc etc.
Finally he’ll say the words which I had been desperately waiting to hear.. “jaiye ab yahan khade kya time waste kar rahe hain.. you need to study 16 hrs a day”
16 hrs!! ya sure!! Over my dead body. Never even studied that much during JEE preparation days.
I was just glad that cooker gave its last whistle. In other words, khichdi pak gai hai.

Days-5:
Next day of last whistle of chakku pressure cooker. I am ready to eat my hard earned khichdi, prepared a day ago. With no words being spoken I slide my papers on his desk, with “Monthly Status Report” over the schol form. Chakku mahaprabhu reads the status report word by word, marks two three red circles over spelling/grammer mistakes (this includes word Chakarvorty/Chakravarty/Chakravarthy” never wrote it correctly), underlines a sentence, asks to correct all these stuff and finally signs off my school form with a warning “If you don’t start working sincerely, this is the last time I am signing your scholarship form”

Epilogue:
The day on which I got my schol form signed was usually the next day of the deadline for submitting it, so after breaking “Chakku ka Chakravyuh” I had to face another problem “Pomerian of Mugambogambo”, but about that later. Bottom line is I rarely got schol.

After a few months of me following the DuDeS motto “Hum Nahi Sudhrenge” Chakku sir did what he warned me of, He stopped signing my schol forms (Although he did sign all of them together after I finished my thesis but bloody ECE dept never gave me my hard earned 30k).

Finally let me clear one thing in spite of all his scolding and everything, Chakku is still my favorite person at IIT-R. He is one of the brightest minds I have ever met in my life. I miss my IIT, I miss my friends, really miss those days a lot.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Five Point Someone: What to do at IIT

Disclaimer:
Following video is re-enactment of a actual life incident, Might be shocking to those who believe all IITians to be extremely sincere creatures, viewers discretion is advised.

video

Well the video says it all, it's this hard(ly) work of mine which made these D..ecent Grades a reality and made me a distinguished member of this (in)famous clan of 5 point someone's...

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Experiments with Food

It all started four years ago with my selection in Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Till then were the days of a Abhinay completely choosy in food, who's mom had to check with the long long list of her son's dislikes before cooking anything. I wonder how my parents tolerated me, I bet if I was in their place my son would have got one tight slap before every meal. Anyways it all changed, in fact drastically, in last four years. Now the person who writes this is complete opposite of the Abhinay, whom I described above. Now I eat all that is edible and too with full enjoyment. Here I tell you the story of this transformation, a changeover which turned this finicky eater into a complete foodie.

This story has two interesting chapters. Chapter-1, where I encounter IIT mess system and Chapter-2, where I use skills developed in IIT mess to survive with European food.

Let's start with chapter-1, First week was the week of excitement, excitement of new place and excitement of reaching the ace institute which was a dream come true.... But.. as this fever diminished and I came face to face with the realities, or rather I should say tongue to food realities, fear filled my heart, fear that I will have to eat the crappy, tasteless food for next five years. So a time when so many professors are trying their best to suck all your blood out, your body doesn't get any food to make new blood.

On a typical day the menu at mess would be- 'kali dal', 'peeli dal', 'kali sabji', 'peeli sabji'; don't ask what is this 'kali' and 'peeli', even after 4yrs I don't know; all i know is that its a yellow mass which is completely tasteless and odourless. But chapattis have a flavour.... they taste like soil. Apart from this usual menu we get 'special' meals three days a week, Then we get rubber like 'nan' (we are trying to get them registered in Guinness book for most stretchable food stuff) or 'bhatures' which will give you a litre oil if you squeeze it. We get those with dust flavoured 'chhole' or 'paneer' which has only chili in the name of spices.

Then a ray of hope appeared in form of the section in the mess where you could get anything fried on request. And it was this Lab where some of the finest food products in IIT Roorkee were engineered. Some of the popular products include Rice fried with butter, Rice fried with eggs, dal fry and egg stuff like half/full fried eggs, french toast, omelet, scrambled egg etc which everybody knows what they are. But some products were really innovative so let me describe a few-

'Paratha Flavoured Roti' - you take a soil flavoured chapatti from mess and fry it in butter for a min or two and then there you are, you have a paratha flavoured roti!!.... Idea for this came up during one of highly productive time of wait in queue for getting the dal fried, when one of my friend suggested that we can try getting chapatti fried, we tried and the experiment was successful. This product is increasingly becoming popular in Govind Mess of IIT-R, which is where we did this experiment. I believe I should get a award for this one, something like 'Innovator of the year in Mess Techniques'.

Then two other products came from a different resource- Sick Diet- which is given to people who are sick and can't digest 'normal' food (who said mess food is normal). Well, usually one should have a prescription from IIT-R hospital that he is sick and should be given a sick diet... But here 'Jugad Technology' comes to the rescue (about that later). Anyways coming back to the food- here we have two options- get two glass of milk with bread or take 'khichdi'. We modified these stuff and came up with following-

'Biryani Flavoured Khichdi' - get the khichdi fried with onions in butter and mix some pickles in it.
'Coffee flavoured milk with fried bread'- get the bread slices fried and mix some coffee in hot milk.

Archaeological evidences suggest that these dishes have been in use for many years and have been modified with the course of time.

Second Chapter Started with my last year's summer project in Germany and continues with this year's summer in France. Usually Indians are use to spicy Indian food and so they find the European food too tasteless, But me no... I love all sort of food now... during last four years at IIT, I forgot what taste is. Either I have lost my taste buds after four years of hard work with my IIT's mess food or my taste buds have got modified such that what ever food they taste my brain will get the signal 'yummy'.

Its not only the taste bud thing, my experimental spirit developed in IIT mess also proved useful. I eat my lunch in 'restaurant universitaire' (fancy name for university mess) where my modified taste buds were working and for dinner I was on my own, which is where my experimental skills proved useful. Please note that I hate cooking mostly because it takes half an hour to prepare the food and then again half an hour to clean the cooking stuff, whereas it takes only 15 min to eat it. So keeping this constrain of less effort I came up with following solutions-

Egg stuff- omelet, fried eggs etc which, 'normal' humans would say, often had a burnt taste but I like to call it burnt flavour eggs, its a unique taste. But unfortunately I had to scrap the idea as it was still taking some effort to clean the frying pan.

my latest invention- 'Hybrid' Sandwich-I don't know exactly what to call them, I put a cheese slice, a meat slice and a layer of hot tomato chicken sauce in between bread slices. eat this with some Indian 'namkeen', tomato ketchup and chilled beer. Its not only tasty but nutritious too and also no effort in making and cleaning. An excellent example of engineering- production with least effort using available resources. (my professors would be so happy)

So those were my experiences with food. Sometimes good, sometimes bad or ugly at others but I enjoyed them.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What's in a name?

Ya, I know Shakespeare gave that crap..... What's in a name, but let me tell you lot's in a name. Shakespeare only looked at a rose and said "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"..... yes rose does that but because it doesn't have any mouth and giving scent is all it does; just try calling a person 'piece of crap' and you'll know how sweet he smells (for better results pick a 6.5 feet, 300 pound person for the above experiment).

Are you wondering why i am trying to disturb Mr. Shakespeare resting peacefully in his grave?? I haven't got anything against this great poet but every time someone calls me abhinav...(God! what have Indians got against a 'Y')... I feel like shouting out at my full volume so that our respected poet can hear me in whichever world he is.

From days of my class 1, i have been correcting people after every introduction- sorry it's abhinay not abhinav.....nay not nav.....y not v...... But believe me this 'Abhinay-Abhinav' has been the smallest error that people made in dealing with my name. Let me tell you all funny incidences that happened with me, myself and Abhinay.

So the story starts with spelling of my name becoming ABHINAYA- the extra A was due to stupid English language adding one 'A' to all Indian names, Ram to Rama, Krishn to Krishna and Abhinay to Abhinaya.... believe me nothing annoyed me more than this distortion. This name followed me till Class5, till that I was so shy and quite boy (ya...I knw its difficult to imagine now- me n shy), that I didn't raise my voice against this inhuman torture to my name. But then one day, when I couldn't bear it any more, I shouted at (pls read requested) the teacher to correct the spelling. I forgot to tell you about my English teacher in class 3, she had a additional mistake in her students list and so she used to call me abhineya...O..MY..GOD....I really hated that. Anyways problems didn't end even after sorting out that additional 'A' thing, In class 5, my moral science teacher- Sr. Ansa jese (school buddies please chk the spelling) had a habit of forgetting my name, God only knows why only mine, and every class she would call me Abhimanyu (??? why??? God knows why only abhimanyu) and every time I'll remind her that it's Abhinay and she would say- 'Oh that's a tough name', yes every time... every class 3 days a week .

Apart from above there were some other small incidences also but not as disastrous as those. Please remember Abhinay-Abhinav thing continued during above period also. Now when I got use to correcting Indians, last year I encountered German attacks on my name, when I told my lab mates my name, next five minutes they struggled (silently) with the pronunciation and finally everyone of them came up with a different version of their own- results were varied- from ebinay, aabinay to abinaay. Also during their silent struggle with my name I could see the fear.... fear that they will have to call this tough name everyday. Most correct was my roommate, who probably practiced it a few hours, who called me abhinaay (only he and my project guide could pronounce 'h' in my name)

After my first experience with European pronunciation, This year I was prepared for French attacks......But..... here in lab I found that my lab mates are two Chinese students, one Jordanian and only one French student (ya only one!! even I was surprised, only one french student in a French lab), I mean apart from my guide who is a French Professor. There are a few PhD students also but there also we have a similar distribution. So let me tell you their approaches-
Chinese - aa.bhi.naa.y (for proper visualization think about kung-fu movies... aa... yaa... ha)
Arabs - abbiney (they say that its similar to abbi- arabic for father :-), ya so from now on call me Godfather)
French- aabhinaay or abhinaay or abinaay (my guide tries to be very careful while pronouncing it)

So this was one side of the name game, sometimes funny and annoying at others. Now let me tell you another side. During school days every year day one used to be introduction day, new teachers would ask every body's name. I am sure it's just for time pass because none of them remembered any body's name, well no ones except mine. It's easy to confuse between many Rahuls, Rohits and Saurabhs (sorry, Rahul, Rohit and Saurabh bhai logon, majak kar raha hoon- well 3 of my dearest friends have these names so no offenses meant) but with Abhinay, which is probably name of 100 out of 1 billion Indian population, isn't easy to confuse ( in fact I personally know only myself with this name). It gives me a feeling of uniqueness in a crowd, I feel like a white tiger in a ocean of yellow ones (..lol), So the summary of this story (long story...i know) is that in spite of all problems I love it.

Advice:- handle names with care....I mean mine only ;-)