Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oracle and Sun Merger

After many days of rumours of IBM and Sun merger, we hear the news that Oracle will take over Sun.

It is amazing how iconic technology companies just fail to do business and eventually survive. I can think of Digital Equipment Company (DEC) which along with IBM, Unisys etc started the computer revolution. Among many products they had worth mentioning are, Operating System VMS, PDP Mini computers, Alpha Superfast microprocessors. When the PC revolution started, they lost market and were taken over by Compaq. It is unimaginable for me that Compaq a PC box seller would take over a true technology company like Digital. Compaq was a great marketing company but hardly a great technology company. Then, HP took over Compaq. Digital technologies are now part of HP. However, one finds no information of VMS, Alpha, or Digital Unix. All these products have been laid to rest.

Sun is a special company as one of its founders was Vinod Khosla, an Indian. In many ways it resembles Digital. It has its own microprocessor - Sparc, its own OS - Solaris, its own Hardware etc. Interestingly, Sun has promoted Java - the most popular development platform. Sun did amazigly well during the DotCom Boom. It had acquired Staroffice and started open source project Open Office. It has acquired Mysql, a popular and formidable database. However, one of the problems of Sun was anti-Microsoft stance. Scott McNealy wanted to kill Microsoft. Many of the Sun's projects were designed to be Microsoft Killers not revenue earners. Someone commeneted IBM made more money out of Java than Sun. How Ironic!

There is raging debate on implication of Suns acquition on its Open Source Projects specially MySql and Open Office. My feeling is that MySql will not be killed. In India, we had the case study of Coca Cola acquiring Thumsup. Thumsup still survives after nearly 20 years of acquition. If Oracle tries to kill MySql, it will assume a new avatar and survive.

However, there are lessons to be learnt from Sun travesty. More on these lessons another day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Elections and Euphoria

Tomorrow  is election time in Bhubaneswar. We have slowed down on many of our activities to observe the election code of conduct.

I had my first taste of election in 1977. 

I joined college in 1976. It was emergency them. Mrs. Indira Gandhi has been critisized by everyone for declaring emergency. Of course, freedom was curtailed for everyone. There was no freedom of press. There was general sense of fear around. One of friend's father who was a labour union activist was arrested and put into prison. However, as a young student, my observation was that classes ran on time. Professors came to the class on time. The examinations were held on time. My college had a history of being banned by the university due to unruly student behaviour. This was a thing of past during the emergency.

In 1977, the emergency was lifted. The general elections was called. The Janata Party was formed by everyone other than congress. We watched with great excitement the as the Janata party gained momentum. The leaders of the party were tall and famous. George Fernadez, Charan Singh, Biju Patnaik, Morarji Desai, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jagajivan Ram were some of them. We all rooted for Janata Party. Of course, we could not vote as we were underage. When the results were being declared, we gathered aroung the Soochna Bhavan. We completely enjoyed the drama and suspense of the results being declared. Janata party won by a thumping majority. We were all euphoric. There was a sense of deja vu all around. Morarji became the first non-congress Prime Minister. 

My first disappointment surfaced when my college union called for a strike to make some demands. There were no classes for a few month. Fortunately for us the final examinations were held on time. The same chaos surfaced the the central government with parties within the janata party fighting with each other and the Government collapsed in 1980.

China at that time going through transition and lais the roots for its economic resurgence. They were liberalizing like there is no tomorrow. In India, the Janata Government threw out Coca Cola and IBM.

In my view, no election will ever be as exciting and euphoric as the one in 1977.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Elections and Technology

TOI calls it the dance of democracy. Other news papers have coined various names. We are talking about general elections. The election posters have replaced telco billboards. Election Ads have replaced toothpaste ones. Every newspaper carries Ads of at least three parties every day.

I think elections can compete with Bollywood and Cricket in the entertainment quotient. In fact right now IGL (Indian General Elections) is competing with IPL ( starring cricketers and bollywood stars). Let's see who will entertain the public most. Both can compare with a Agatha Christi Thriller. The result will be known at the very end. But, Hercule Poirot and Prannoy Roy et al. will privide the entertainment of a life time.

The Election Commission is very IT savvy. Witness the evm machine, the voter ID card. When florida was counting and recounting and re-recounting the votes, India was carrying out voting through EVMs and with no glitches. Amazing!

A couple of days back I got a call from Naveen Patnaik. When I tried to interrupt, It did not work. It took me some time to realize that Technology was fooling me. It was a recorded message. Then, I have received calls from many contestents. All of them are recorded messages.

Any web site I visit today has an Ad from This appears many more times compared to the matrimony ads which was the most visible ads. If the population of India drops, you can safely blame the elections.

It is surprising to see how the official machinery, political parties, voters have embraced technology to make this election a memorable one. I hope that the deserving candidates win. No matter who wins the elections, the marriage between the technology and elections is a winner.