Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Management Styles

Managing people or being managed is always more successful if you can determine what type of management style is in play. Each manager is going to manage their team differently but generally most follow one of several common management styles. Typically we see two management styles that are most common in the workplace. Authoritarian or Autocratic management styles take little input from the group and merely hand out orders. The manager using an autocratic or authoritarian management style typically expects their directions to be followed with little or no discussion or questions. This style of management works best when managing large numbers of employees doing similar simple jobs. Another style of management is the participative or democratic management style. This style involves taking input from the team of employees, the manager then considers the ideas brought forth and makes the final decision. While this style is sometimes called democratic it really is not because in the end the manager makes the final decisions. Participative management is a more proper way to describe this management style. This style works great when managing a smaller team of highly skilled individuals.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mr. Google Vs. Mr. Originality

There is a lot of hue and cry about googlization of information. When I've an assignment to do, my starting point is typically google and the end result (the report) is a potpourri of matter from different sites which sometimes makes sense and sometimes does not. Apparently google is students’ best friend, but is it not harming their growth in the long run?

Today something happened to me...something that happened to Samuel Taylor Coleridge way back in the autmn of 1797 when he conceived Kubla Khan of Xanadu in his dream (where do you think I got this date from...of course google ;-) ) I had a dream - a dream full of ideas. I woke up and tried to scribble them on paper. Now I expect something somewhat original somewhere.

The point I’m trying to make is if we give it a thought and don’t mindlessly start googling (as I do), we sure can come up with original ideas. And then may be some day....

We would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And drink the milk of Paradise.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

No open source future for Virtualization?

Industry experts take Dana Blankenhorn on as he believes that there is no open source future for Virtualization. Tarry Singh, CEO Avastu Appliances, says:

I don't get it. Is it taking a jab at all other firms like Redhat, Novell, Virtual Iron and warning them not to rely too much on Xen? This summary is rather succinct and honestly does not do any justice to what the Open Source is capable of.

Alex Weeks, author of the Linux System Administrator’s Guide, says :
Like Tarry, I don’t get Dana’s point. In fact, I’m not even sure why ZDnet published this. It really lacks any point. I think he’s trying to make a point without really understanding the technology. Or any technology for that matter. I read some of his other articles, and he doesn’t seem to get any where. It’s like he’s writing inside jokes that only he understands. In his articles, he starts to go somewhere but never goes there.

Indeed open source is important to our future and virtualization is the next big thing. Combine the two and what you get is a deadly mix!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Virtualization & Open Source in India

The Indian IT market is estimated to touch $65 billion by 2009, posting a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent. The market, on the back of strong demand over the past few years, has emerged as the fastest-growing one in the Asia Pacific region.IDC India Limited, an IT industry analyst firm, has predicted that the year 2007 will witness Indian enterprises graduate to the second level of Dynamic IT infrastructure – where IT infrastructure can effect changes fast in response to the changing business scenario. The key technology components to attain this state are virtualization, SOA and application integration. CIO India examines the impact of open source & virtualization.

.......What has caused the effective price of virtualization to head toward zero -- and how? In contrast to many who seem to feel that open source and proprietary software operate in two parallel but separate universes — that open source is used by people who can’t afford ‘real’ software, while proprietary commercial software is for organizations that need reliability, scalability, and all the other ‘abilities’ — I believe that open source is already challenging the proprietary software world.

How about a case study to test the theory? Let’s look at virtualization, something that has tremendous potential with a clear payoff: reduced costs for IT organizations, both hard (power, machines) and soft (admin and operations personnel). It evinces an undeniable fact: machines are improving so fast that they make possible a change to the traditional hardware infrastructure, breaking the bounds of the one machine, one application practice used by most IT shops....

Read on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blog Development & Thinking

Blogs.....What does an obscure format which started with computer geeks have to do with development? Quite a bit, say Tim Harford and Pablo Halkyard, co-authors of the World Bank Blog.

….the playing field is much more level than it was even a year ago. Being a big organisation counts for very little in the booming world of blogs - what counts is quick, relevant content. And if the playing field is being levelled within the developed world, just wait until the developing world starts to play the game. It’s already happening: during this summer’s Live8 campaign, some African bloggers started to complain that the concerts were irrelevant, patronising, or worse. Even just a couple of years ago, such dissenting voices from Africa would never have been heard. Huge sites, such as Harvard’s Global Voices Online, are gathering together the output of ‘bridge bloggers’ who read local blogs and comment in English. Some countries, such as Iran, have vast blogging communities; others are tiny but growing very fast.

It has never been easier for journalists to pick up voices from the developing world - or even for you and us to do so from our desks. People all over the world are talking, but only now can we hear what they’re saying....

Read the entire article here — encouraging stuff.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gross National Happiness (GNH) : An Inane Concept

Have you ever wondered what happiness is? Happiness is quite often equated with money. The gross domestic product, or GDP, is routinely used as shorthand for the well-being of a nation. But the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been toying with a completely different idea for a while. King Wangchuck has decided to make his nation’s priority not its GDP but its GNH. And believe it or not but the most unlikely place on earth for the birth of an international trend is emerging as a global leader in the promotion of this whole new concept of the 'Gross National Happiness.'

According to Wiki, Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than GDP. The concept of GNH is based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

I am sure we all will agree that happiness is a feeling, a subjective experience. I may say “I am happy” just as I may say “I am rich.” The two statements sound similar but these statements are qualitatively different. There is an objective validity to the statement “I am rich” because my wealth can be measured. But happiness is subjective and does not allow interpersonal comparisons, while richness does. We can definitely say how A’s wealth compares to B’s wealth but cannot say how A’s happiness compares to B’s happiness.

GDP is a measure of the annual production of final goods and services in an economy denominated in monetary terms. GDP does not aggregate cows. Thus saying that the GDP does not accurately tell me anything about how many cows are in the economy is as silly as saying that GDP does not tell me whether the people in the country are happy or not!

I have never considered the GDP to be the end-all and be-all of an economy any more than I consider the monthly income to be the only relevant characteristic of a person. Those who complain that GDP is not all that matters are making a valid but rather trivial complaint. What I don’t understand is the attempt by the detractors of GDP aping a metric which they have perhaps misunderstood. They are in effect saying that GDP does not measure happiness. So we must come up with an alternate aggregate measure we will call Gross National Happiness which will be more appropriate. That is GNS - Gross National Stupidity ;-) Tomorrow they may say that GDP does not give a count of the number of cows so we should come up with some kind of Gross National Cow index!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Investment Banker Wisdom

This one is reeeeeally hilarious guys! (forwarded to me by one of my friends)

The investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal
Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The investment banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, only a little while.

The investment banker then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The investment banker then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor."

The investment banker scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You can leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

But what then, senor?

The American laughed and said that's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.

Millions, senor? Then what?

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Investment banking for dummies

Ever heard about Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Jefferies & Co etc.? Ever thought what these guys do? Well...they make billions of dollars every year through investment banking. If you are a neophyte and new to the world of finance then you must have come across the term Investment banking. Investment banks assist public and private corporations in raising funds in the Capital Markets, as well as in providing strategic advisory services for mergers, acquisitions and other types of financial transactions.
An organization may generate funds in two different ways through investment banking:
  • They may draw on public funds through the capital market by selling stock
  • They may seek out venture capital/private equity in exchange for a stake in their company

Investment Banks also do a large amount of consulting. Advice on mergers and acquisitions, on when to make public offerings etc. is given to the companies. The line between investment banking and other forms of banking has blurred in recent years. With the advent of mega-banks which operate at a number of levels, many of the services often associated with investment banking are being made available to clients who would otherwise be too small to make their business profitable. Large financial-services conglomerates combine commercial banking and investment banking. Prominent among these are ABN Amro, Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Rabobank, UBS.

Careers in IB are lucrative and most sought after in the money-market world. A career in investment banking may involve extensive traveling, grueling hours and a cut-throat lifestyle. Although IB is highly competitive and time intensive, it also offers huge financial incentives ;-)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

openQRM Virtual Appliance: Manage your Linux, Unix, Windows Virtual & Physical DataCenter!

The Avastu Team with close cooperation with the openQRM Team, has released the Virtual Appliance.

Get it on the VMTN Appliance Market Place:

NOTE 1: To download the appliances please send an email to: info[at]

NOTE 2: For requesting downloads @Avastu please do NOT use free email addresses such as, etc.

This is a "Complete Datacenter Management & Provisioning software" with

  • File system images of Fedora Core 5 AND Centos 4

  • Two diskless nodes

We can customize the product and help you deploy it in your test, development labs and even production! (We are already assisting our current client with several openQRM installations in production).

Details for Testers/Developers/Administrators:

  • user = root

  • password = sysadmin

  • File System Images: Fedora Core 5, Centos 4

  • Nodes : 2 (two) diskless nodes

  • IP address for url:

  • WebAdmin username= qrm

  • WebAdmin password = qrm

What can openQRM do?

Data center needs and problems

Growing number of commodity servers leads to:

* Increasing number of failures – furthering downtime.

* Servers managed individually lead to:

  • greater opportunity for operator error

  • inconsistent imaging and policies applied across servers

  • over-provisioned or peak-provisioned systems

* Growing management costs – hardware and software are a small part of the price.

Bottom line: System administrators spend a significant amount of time either fighting fires or repeating multiple steps to manage a growing number of individual Linux boxes. Ultimately, the x86 data center is not always reliable, does not meet business needs, and creates inefficiencies in terms of administrative costs per server.

The Solution

Open Resource Manager addresses the needs of the modern data center by:

  • Improving reliability on the hardware and application level

  • Giving system administrators full control of the data-center

  • Provisioning servers within a few minutes

  • Consistently applying policies across servers

  • Adjusting resources based on business demands

  • Managing heterogeneous x86 hardware

Read More at openQRM site

Enjoy your virtual appliance!

Avastu Associate's Interview with BusinessWorld

Sridhar, an associate of Avastu, has setup his own firm in China and is currently working as Director, Shared Services and Offshoring, of Morgan Chambers. He gave an interview to the BusinessWorld during the Nasscom 2007 – India Leadership Forum. Chek it out here!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Do You Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity." Some say Ubuntu means 'I am what I am because of what we all are' (Tarry's tagline "extended" :p). Don't worry guys, I am not thinking of becoming a poet - at least not in the near future ;-)
Well, Ubuntu is a free, open source Linux-based operating system. The choice of Ubuntu as the name for this OS reflects a deep appreciation for the supportive, cooperative collaboration that is the basis of the Open Source Software movement, the global nature of the participants in the Ubuntu project, and the rich, helpful community that is growing up around the Ubuntu distribution.

Ubuntu's DESKTOP

Ubuntu has a pretty desktop at startup. The Gnome taskbar is quite user-friendly. Look at the screenshot and speculate for yourself.

NAUTILUS (File Manager)

Nautilus is Ubuntu's file manager. It works in two modes - the browser mode and the simple mode. The simple mode is stripped down and is probably the fastest file manager in Linux. But the simple mode isn’t advisable for someone who is extremely familiar with windows. The sidebar isn’t limited to showing the folder tree only. It can be used to show information about the folder and the selected items.


Open Office is similar to MS Office. There are many added advantages too, like the built in Export to pdf tool. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites.


The default browser is Firefox. You can also download and use other Gnome browsers like Galeon or Epiphany.


Rhythmbox is the default music player for Ubuntu. It does not look cool at all and has a dull interface. And it's nothing more than ordinary when compared to other media players such as the windows mp, the iTunes, winamp etc.

Ubuntu has fuelled the ongoing debate between the open source advocates and proprietary software makers & users. Can Linux offer a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows?
It can! Try it to believe it.

PS: Ian Murdock, the “ian” in “Debian”, founder of the Debian distribution uses Ubuntu on his desktop!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Inflation: Are Banks Responsible?

“That we are overdone with banking institutions which have banished the precious metals and substituted a more fluctuating and unsafe medium [paper, and now not even paper]…that the wars of the world have swollen our commerce beyond the wholesome limits of exchanging our own productions for our own wants, and that, for the emolument of a small proportion of our society who prefer these demoralizing pursuits to labors useful to the whole, the peace of the whole is endangered and all our present difficulties produced, are evils more easily to be deplored than remedied.”

—Thomas Jefferson to Abbe Salimankis, 1810

Now this statement seems to be absolutely absurd!! After all who can dare question a bank's role in the development of any economy? I, for one, am a banking enthusiast but sometimes I ponder whether banks could be held responsible for inflation.

Over 95% of the world's population does not understand the meaning of “dividend” , “mutual fund sales” and “investment-banking fees” but thanks to these three things, the Royal Bank of Canada made record profits of 1.49 billion dollars in the first quarter—which, from a purely instinctive point-of-view, seems STUNNINGLY OUTRAGEUOS to me!

By doing nothing-productively-tangible for the world—in fact by simply creating money—are banks nothing more than an aspect of that part of the machine that endlessly drives up inflation by devaluing currency?

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Chidambaram seems to have completely gone wrong on the issue of the Fringe Benefit Tax assessment of Employee Stock Ownership Plans, or ESOPs. This could be one of the most regressive steps in the disappointing Union Budget 2007-08. FM has included ESOPs in the Fringe Benefit Taxes' ambit.

ESOPs are a capital asset. Technically speaking, an ESOP is a transfer of remuneration from the company via a capital asset. They are a wealth-creating asset and FM is taxing them like income. Which canon of economic thinking can EVER justify that?? In an interview to CNN-IBN, Chidambaram said that ESOPs are fringe benefits, so they need to be taxed. Are ESOPs really fringe benefits? ESOPs are not a like a car, or a house or gardener a company provides its employees. It's much more than that. ESOPs are a way to include the employees in the growth of an organisation. It's a participatory or an inclusive way of running an organisation. Actually, what the FM has done is to tax those professionally run companies who believe in offering ESOPs. So by including ESOPs in the FBT regime, FM is penalising such companies. It's a highly regressive step, and will kill the entrepreneurial and start-up culture. It's not too late to get the FM roll back such a measure. If the media and the industry associations like Nasscom and CII put pressure on FM, he may just roll back.

Budget 07 - Not Good, Too Bad, And Seriously Ugly!

10 years ago, a guy named Palaniappan Chidambaram rose to present a budget. People hailed it as a "Dream Budget". Now the same guy presented another budget. Forget dreams, this is a budget that is disappointing, unimaginative and seriously sad. Everything was in place for the Finance Minister to present another dream, this time though he chose to present a nightmare for us. So what actually makes the nightmare budget so nightmarish?

Instead of trying to help the so-called "aam aadmi" by reducing the taxes, the minister chose to increase the government's expenses by Rs 100,000 crore!

  • Education came first with a whopping 34.5% increase. Now that sure is a welcome step, if you decide to overlook the fact that most of this will go into providing reservations and very little will actually help the education of the "general quota". (An article on reservations - Coming soon! ;-) ) The 2% education cess has been increased to 3% and many experts believe that this is NOT going to help education at all (Read article).
  • Next came the farm sector. A proposal for Rs 2,25,000 crore for farm credit and a target to bring 5 million more farmers under farm credit. Also a promise of 100 per cent subsidy to small farmers and 50 per cent subsidy to other farmers. Dear minister, when will you realize the fact that you are putting all that money into a black hole. Agriculture in India, in its present form is unviable. Farming on tiny individual plots is never a good idea (much less an efficient way of agriculture). The minister ought to have encouraged farm consolidation, but nothing of the sort happened.
  • Rural India dominated with hiked outlays under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Mission, the Bharat Nirmal Housing Programme, the National Rural Health Mission. Now our dear minister seems to have forgotten that people live in urban areas too. While the cost of health services in the urban areas has been rising, our minister chose to ignore the fact. With the infrastructure crumling in our urban areas, attention to urban infrastructure would not have hurt. While its good that our minister has tried to help the rural area, the complete lack of focus on urban areas is disappointing and unfortunate.
  • The budget proposes to include any sweat equity shares allotted by a company to its existing or former employees within the ambit of fringe benefits for the purpose of taxation. So with the ESOPs now under the FBT regime, employees stand to lose (I'll write more about it in my next article).
  • Of course, the finance minister did not forget to bring IT companies under MAT or the minimum alternative tax. India’s export-oriented enterprises such as in the thriving software outsourcing industry were brought back under the tax net. Now they have to pay 11.33 percent of the adjusted book profits as MAT.

Some questions that came to my mind while listening to the boring and unimaginative budget:

  • While I appreciate the focus on rural development, the fact is that people live in urban areas too, and they too need infrastructure. Btw, do you think the urban middle class is just about a hundred people or so? (the complete disregard of the urban middle class in your budget makes me think that someone told you so)
  • While IT too should be taxed like any other industry, don’t you think its too early?What in the world makes you think that 11.33% MAT would hardly make any difference to the IT companies?? Sir, it can push a lot of small companies (already with razor thin margins) into loss making units?
  • What the hell is this FBT thing? Yeah, I know it was introduced in the last budget because someone went brain dead but continued writing the budget. Don’t you think it should have been scrapped?
  • And hey, all this cess and surcharge needs to be done away with. You ALREADY collect taxes for doing things that the government is supposed to do - like building roads, providing basic education etc. Why the hell do you have a road cess (on petrol) and an education cess (on all taxes)??

Has the dream merchant stopped daring to dream?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Avastu White Paper: Indian Market Research

I have written a white paper for Avastu. The research was conducted while keeping the North Indian Market in mind.

To download the White Paper please send an email to info[at]avastu[dot]com.

How to Calculate Your Server TCO?

With the current focus on fiscal responsibility and due diligence, CIO’s and IT executives have indicated that more than 80% of current IT purchases require financial analysis for justification. In an effort to to justify the use of server virtualization platforms, I devised a model for assessing the 'Total Cost of Ownership' (TCO) of any production (server) environment. TCO analysis for the server park should ideally be done for a period of 4 years since the estimated lifetime of a server is 4 years. Yearly / monthly TCO can thus be obtained to get a fair idea of how much is being spent yearly / monthly. Following are the major points on which the TCO calculations are based:

Hardware Costs

  • Cost of physical servers
  • Cost of processor/RAM upgrade
  • Cost of extra storage devices
  • Cost of SAN
  • Cabling cost
  • Cost of racks

Software Costs

  • Cost of OS
  • Cost of anti-virus s/w
  • Cost of backup s/w
  • Cost of server management software (NetIQ etc.)
  • Cost of other softwares

Vendor Support

  • Cost of service agreements
  • Cost of warranties

Setup & Maintenance

  • Cost of setup of servers
  • Cost of installation
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Cost of training
  • Cost of consultancy

Facility Costs

  • Power & cooling costs
  • Flooring costs

The TCO thus calculated may then be used to model typical data center strategies and best practices of specific alternative server and operating system solutions. The calculations should be performed using comparable competitive scenarios.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Why Virtualize?

Are your IT costs getting out of control, as multiple desktops, platforms, applications, and software versions proliferate across your organization? Do you know how much you’re really spending throughout the IT lifecycle? How can you reduce these IT costs? How can you lower your TCO? Why should you go ahead with (server) virtualization?

In 2006, I spent an entire month calculating, analyzing and assessing the TCO of the server park of one of the largest universities in the Netherlands - the Hanze University. They have over a hundred and twenty servers in their production environment. I, along with the IT managers, concluded that virtualization is imperative for any IT organization facing the aforementioned problems on account of the following:

  • Underutilized x86 boxes – Average CPU utilization rate of 5-10 % has become a norm rather than an exception
  • Repeatable Admin tasks – Installation of various softwares is done over and again for each and every physical server and thus, a lot of time and money is spent on repeatable tasks.
  • Floor Space – A lot of costly floor space is being used by the astronomical number of physical servers in the production environment.
  • Hardware / Support Costs – The servers and the service agreements cost a lot. Appropriate measures have to be taken to contain these costs before it’s too late.
  • Power / Cooling Charges – The ever increasing number of physical servers consume a lot of energy and you end up getting huge bills for the electricity charges.
  • No time / money left for R&D