Tuesday 12 October 2010

Getting introduced to Liferay Portal

Just finished first chapter of a book titled, "Liferay in action". It is an introductory chapter and provides useful tour of Liferay portal. It is freely available at http://www.manning.com/sezov/Sezov_LiA_MEAP_Ch1_FREE.pdf. Following are my notes from this chapter.

  • Liferay is an application (read: portlet) aggregator, content manager and a collaboration tool.
  • A Liferay server consists of one or more portals. Each portal has its own set of users and user collections.
  • There are four types of collections:
    1. Role: Collects users by their function. Permissions in the portal can be attached to roles.
    2. Organization: Collects users by their position in a hierarchy. Organizations can be nested in a tree structure.
    3. Community: Collects users who have a common interest. They're single entities and can't be grouped hierarchically.
    4. User Group: Collects users on an ad hoc basis. Defined by portal administrators.
  • Organizations and Communities can have any number of pages defined within them. Pages are organized into Layouts, and there are two types of Layouts: Public and Private. User Groups don't have pages per sé, but rather can have Page Templates. By default, each user gets a personal community, which itself has public and private layouts. This is a personal web site which the end user can configure.
  • Roles can be created under one of two scopes: Portal Role and Community/Organization Role.
  • Portlets could be either non-instanceable or instanceable. Non-instanceable portlet (e.g. wiki portlet) has its data scoped by the community or organization to which it belongs. No matter how many times you add it to a page with the community or organization, it will point to the same data. On other hand, in case of instanceable portlets (e.g. RSS portlet), since many of them can be placed on the same pages in any community or organization, they all have their own sets of data.
  • Liferay's Control Panel is the central location where just about everything can be administered.
  • While designing the portal, first step is to get answers to following questions:
    • Will users be given freedom to sign up on the site?
    • Will your user groupings be ad-hoc, static, or both? (If your user groupings will be ad-hoc, you know you'll be creating communities for your users to join and leave.)
    • Will some regular users have access to things others won't? (If so, you know you'll be using Roles.)
    • Will you be delegating administrative tasks to some users? (If so, you may have Community or Organization Administrators.)

Now next step for me is to install and explore Liferay portal!

Thursday 2 September 2010

Book Review: The Romance of Tata Steel

Written by R M Lala, this book is a story of Tata Steel, running for
more than a century. The story begins in the years of 1980s and covers
the latest events such as acquisition of Corus. Tata Steel is known
for two key things: low-cost production of steel and public welfare
activities. The book focuses more on the second thing but does provide
some insights into the operations of the company. It mentions quite a
few anecdotes and portraits many personalities that were involved in
making and running of Tata Steel. In a little less than 200 pages, the
authors has been able to give a good understanding of the company
though more details in the areas of management style, operational
strategy etc., would have made this book more useful. It definitely
succeeds in increasing respect for the company among readers.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

What do Software Architects really do?

I came across this interesting article from Philippe Kruchten, published in the Journal of Systems and Software in year 2008. In this article, the author has recommended following time allocation for software architects:

·         Internal Focus: About 50% of time focused on architecting per se: architectural design, prototyping, evaluating, documenting, etc.

·         External Focus: About 50% of time interacting with other stakeholders. It has got two facets:

o   Inwards: 25% time for getting input from outside world: listening to customers, users, product managers, and other stakeholders; learning about technologies, other systems' architecture and architectural practices

o   Outwards: 25% time for providing information or help to other stakeholders: communicating architecture, project management, project definition

The author has also identified following anti-patterns, which can be illustrated with this ratio of [internal:inwards:outwards]

·         Goldplating [60:30:10]: software architects are not engaged enough with the implementation team.

·         Ivory Tower [70:15:15]: software architects have isolated themselves.

·         Absent Architect [30:40:30]: software architects are spending too much time travelling the world, at the expense of their core work.

·         Just Consultants [25:25:50]: software architects are engaged more in activities such as product definition

The author has not offered very strong formal evidence supporting his recommendations. But we can treat them as very valuable inputs, given the credentials of the author.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Gartner Report on “Leading in Times of Transition: The 2010 CIO Agenda”

Just finished reading an executive summary of Gartner report titled "Leading in Times of Transition: The 2010 CIO Agenda". Following are my notes from this reading:

1.       Top three business priorities for CIOs in year 2010 are:

a.       Improving business processes

b.      Reducing enterprise costs

c.       Increasing the use of information/analytics.

2.       Top three business priorities in year 2013 as projected by CIOs surveyed are:

a.       Managing change initiatives

b.      Improving business processes

c.       Attracting and retaining new customers.

3.       Top ranked strategic technologies for CIOs surveyed are as follows: Virtualization, Cloud Computing and Web 2.0.

4.       The 2010 CIO Agenda will focus on following three factors:

a.       An economy in transition places a premium on results productivity versus cost-efficiencies.

b.      Enterprise strategies are shifting toward more collaborative and innovative solutions.

c.       The rise of technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and Web 2.0 are creating a new IT landscape.

Since I do not have access to full Gartner report, I do not know the rationale behind these findings/recommendations. But anyway there are no surprises here!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Survey on Essential Skills for Solution Architects

I am involved in research for building capability framework for the role of solution architect. As part of this research, we have launched a survey to distinguish essential capabilities from a list of 35 capabilities. Kindly respond to the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/36WZK5H if you work in the area of solution architecture. With only nine questions, this survey will take less than ten minutes of your time.

We intend to publish a series of papers in academic conferences to share the findings of this research in public domain. Your contribution will help make this happen. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Research Methods

While browsing Internet, I stumbled upon a web site at http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/proj/res_meth/rmvl/index.html, which has provided useful information regarding research methods. My notes are as follows:

1.       Experimental: This method is one in which a researcher manipulates an independent variable (anything that can vary) under highly controlled conditions to see if this produces (causes) any changes in a dependent variable. He has to ensure holding all other variables, variables that might also affect the dependent variable, constant. The method can help in determining cause-and-effect relationships. A major limitation is that this method can only be used when it is practical and ethical for the researcher to manipulate the independent variable.

2.       Following four research methods are called as descriptive methods. Use of these methods does not allow drawing conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships but can be used where experimental method cannot be used.

a.       Correlation: This method helps determine the degree and direction of relationship between two or more variables or measures of behavior. It also can be used as a basis for prediction.

b.      Naturalistic observation: In this method, the researcher very carefully observes and records some behavior or phenomenon, sometimes over a prolonged period, in its natural setting.

c.       Survey: Surveys are particularly useful when researchers are interested in collecting data on aspects of behavior that are difficult to observe directly (such as thoughts about suicide) and when it is desirable to sample a large number of subjects. Since it relies on a self-report method of data collection, intentional deception, poor memory, or misunderstanding of the question can all contribute to inaccuracies in the data.

d.      Case Study: It involves an in-depth descriptive record, kept by an outside observer, of an individual or group of individuals. They often rely on descriptive information provided by different people. This leaves room for important details to be left out. Also, much of the information collected is retrospective data, recollections of past events, and is therefore subject to the problems inherent to memory.

The site also provides more details, which you may find useful if you are interested in this area.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Middleware Software Market Overview by Forrester

Forrester has published a report on Dec 30, 2009, providing an overview of middleware software market. It has reported total market size for middleware software at $25 billion plus for year 2008. The middleware software includes business process platforms and legacy transaction servers (e.g IBM CICS, Oracle Tuxedo, Natural/Adabas etc). As per the report, IBM is market leader with 18.7% market share. It is followed by Microsoft (16.3%), Oracle (13.8%) and SAP (5.4%). These top four vendors cover 54.2% market share. Software AG, TIBCO Software and Progress Software are the leading three independent vendors focused on a middleware portfolio. Their market shares are 2.2%, 2.1% and 1.4% respectively. Red Hat is only holding 0.2% market share though "usage" share for open source software could be more.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Diamond’s Business Design 2010 Study

Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, Inc. has published 12-page report on their site, based on its survey of 174 business leaders. It has revealed a couple of interesting findings:

  • 57% of firms have market penetration as primary objective while only 16% firms have indicated innovation as primary objective.
  • Only 6% of surveyed managers feel they are focused on changing only the processes they view as most important in accomplishing their objectives. Almost half the respondents (46%) confess that the economic crisis has caused them to spread themselves too thin.

The authors have concluded that year 2010 will be a year of increased competitive intensity. The firms will try to hold on to their current market share while stealing customers from the competition.

Near the end of the report, the authors have made following three recommendations:

  1. Review your growth portfolio to make sure you have the right capabilities and investments to support a market penetration or innovation strategy.
  2. Conduct a scenario-planning exercise that can help to foster organizational agility and better planning.
  3. Create a growth team comprised largely of line executives who can help close the thinking/doing gap and focus the organization on profitable growth.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Using Mind Maps made easy

Mind Map is a well-known graphical method to take notes. Instead of taking notes linearly so that they are read like an article, taking notes using mind map as shown in the figure has many advantages.

By arranging all information around a central theme, mind map provides a visual representation of the information, which is more intuitive to understand. They boost the recall of the information presented thus maximizing the retained learning. More importantly, since the ideas are presented in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps help adopt a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks.

To use mind map, all what you need is a paper and pen. But it becomes tedious when the mind map becomes bigger and bigger. Particularly, when you use mind maps for brainstorming, using paper and pen constraints your idea generation ability. During brainstorming we tend to get many new ideas, which require us to frequently reorganize the mind map. Doing it using paper and pen makes the mind map look messy. Also as we keep on adding new ideas and information, the mind map starts collecting more and more clutter, thus stifling further idea generation ability.

Using the software tool can help overcome these problems. By using software for creating mind map, we can add/delete ideas quite frequently without making the mind map messy. Also the software can provide a view where some branches can be collapsed or expanded thus giving non-cluttered view of the mind map.

There are quite a few mind-mapping software products available. Notable examples of commercial products include Buzan's iMindMap, MindManager (formerly known as MindMan) and XMind Pro. There are free software alternatives too. FreeMind is the one that I personally use for creating mind maps. It's easy to use and provides quite a good feature set. XMind is another free software product that can be considered.

Armed with a software product, you can effectively use mind maps thus increasing your productivity in learning and brainstorming!

Wednesday 10 February 2010

What is Knowledge?

While searching for the answer to this question, I came across following useful definition of knowledge. Tom Davenport, who is considered to be the authority on Knowledge Management has defined Knowledge as "fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information". This definition tells us the following:
  1. Nature of knowledge, which is fluid and sometimes causing some degree of difficulty to exactly identify its scope
  2. Composition of knowledge, which are comprised of experiences, values, information, and insights
  3. Purpose of knowledge, which are creating new knowledge and sharing/transferring existing knowledge
Taking it further, Knowledge Management (KM) can be defined as managing identification of knowledge, creation of knowledge, transfer of knowledge and sharing of knowledge. A Knowledge Management System (KMS) is the one that can facilitate these management activities. Needless to mention, KMS is necessary for effective KM but is no way sufficient for the same!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Creativity & Team-building Workshop for Secondary School Children

On Sunday December 10, 2009, four of us, Mona, Manish, Vinod and I had an exciting experience in facilitating a Creativity & Team-building Workshop for Secondary School Children residing near IIT Bombay. Four of us volunteer with an NGO called Asha, which works towards providing education to underprivileged children. Asha Mumbai chapter runs a center near IIT Bombay to provide tuition to underprivileged children who study in nearby schools but do not receive enough quality education in schools.

Being working professionals, we always found it difficult to commit to teaching either on weekdays or on weekends for an extended period of time. Hence we decided to conduct a day-long workshop where we could teach something useful, which is not covered in the curriculum.

On the workshop day, we started at around 10 am. We had 26 children from fourth to ninth standards as participants. We started with "Name Game" for which we wrote 20 adjectives on blackboard. We made all children sit in a circle and asked each one to tell his/her name by adding the most relevant adjective to it. Since initial few picked up the easy ones such as good, tall and perfect, we asked others to pick up other adjectives such as courageous, enthusiastic and cooperative. We found that the children had difficult time to pronounce the long words but they were equally enthusiastic to give a try. Interestingly, we ended the session with the same activity to check the effectiveness and we received descent feedback.

The second activity involved formation of 5 teams out of 26 children. Each team was given a packet consisting of 10 stationary objects (e.g. eraser, sharpener, etc). This activity, called as "Name the things", required each team to write names of all 10 objects on one A4 sheet. Two teams won the competition by scoring seven out of ten. We took this opportunity to write down all ten names on backboard and asked each team to learn all these ten names by heart. It was interesting to watch children helping others in their teams learn these words as we tried to emphasis the importance of teamwork to them.

The third activity was quite simple. We gave one jigsaw puzzle to teams and asked them to identify the picture once completed. The children found this activity quite easy though there was intense competition among teams to complete the jigsaw at the earliest! The next activity was equally easy. We had prepared 25 chits containing 4 letter-words (no pun intended!) with last two letters swapped. The teams needed to write the correct words on given A4 sheet. This activity had a simple objective of adding/reinforcing 25 words to the vocabulary of the participating children.

Now came the time for lunch! We had arranged for vegetarian biryani and raita for all children. As we served food to them, they patiently waited and then jumped on the food altogether once we finished the initial serving. After lunch we gave them 15-minutes break so that we could quickly clean the classroom and get ready for next activity.

The post-lunch activity was for boosting the creativity of children. Trophy building, as it was called, required teams to make a trophy out of 10 sheets of A4-sized paper. We first gave them one sheet to draw the trophy that they intend to make as a team. Though initially the children were seen clueless, quickly during team discussion they came up with enough ideas. Out of five teams, only one team couldn't make the trophy that could stand by itself for at least 30 seconds. Nevertheless all the trophies demonstrated high creatively among participating children.

The final activity was a Team Drawing Competition. We gave a drawing sheet to each team with one pencil and one eraser. We mentioned 26th January as the theme. We also told them that each team member had to contribute during the drawing exercise. With only one pencil and eraser, the team found it quite difficult to coordinate their actions and we had to cool off quite a few heated arguments. Nevertheless, each team completed the drawing and then got crayons to paint the same. At the end of this activity, we had five colorful drawings, out of which we picked up one, which was not only good-looking but also was result of excellent teamwork. We took this opportunity to advise children on how team work is important and how it can help bring out excellent outcome such as winner drawing.

It was 4 pm by then and we had to conclude the workshop. Most of the children were quite engaged and wanted next activity to start. Since time was constraint, we repeated the first activity, which also helped us assess its effectiveness and served as good wrap up. The children
bid farewell to us with a question on when we will meet again. Given our constraints, we chose not to promise anything though we promised to repeat this workshop for other children supported by Asha Mumbai.

My notes from "The IT Consultant" book

“The IT Consultant” book is an excellent resource for any IT professional aiming to become IT consultant. Written by Rick Freedman, this book provides a commonsense framework for managing the client relationship. It provides a wealth of ideas, tips and information that any budding IT consultant would find useful. I have prepared my notes using mind map technique and shared here as an image in this blog.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

SAP Software Licensing Model

On its web site, SAP has made available easy-to-read 16-page document that helps develop basic understanding of SAP Software Licensing Model. You can find the link at http://www.sap.com/solutions/licensingmodel/. This guide is applicable only to SAP Business Suite, SAP BusinessObjects software, and SAP NetWeaver. Let me share my notes here.
  • SAP offers perpetual software licenses for which up-front payment is needed at the time of purchase. Additionally, SAP offers maintenance and support services for a recurring fee. Typically the annual fee for maintenance is calculated as a percentage of the software contract value (maintenance base). The annual fee is due from the first month after delivery and must be paid in advance.
  • SAP licenses its software through a combination of package licenses and named user licenses. Package licenses entitle a licensee to deploy and use the specified software functionality provided that the appropriate users accessing the functionality are licensed as well. Named user licenses are generally not tied to a specific package license but are valid across all package licenses.
  • Package licenses are priced based on key business metrics such as orders processed, contracts, gross written premium, number of patients treated, and so on. In some cases, package licenses are priced by technology metrics, like the number of CPUs in a server environment. In the case of CPUs as a license metric, the first core of a processor is counted as a full CPU while every additional core is counted only half. The licensed software product can only be used up to the licensed amount of the respective business metric.
  • SAP offers two user types: "SAP application users" and "SAP platform users." The latter are users that access SAP software exclusively through non-SAP applications that have certified integration with SAP applications. For each user type, SAP offers a number of user categories that are suited for different user roles. The default user category is the professional user. All other user categories, such as employee or limited professional, are suitable for specific usage scenarios only.
  • SAP uses different licensing principles when SAP software is accessed by a technical interface or a non-SAP application. License requirements are based on the utilization of the software functionality independent of the technical interface that is used to access functions and data.
  • Any package license includes unlimited rights for nonproductive use of the licensed software, such as development, testing, training, or creating backups. However, all users accessing the software for such purposes (for example, developers, system administrators, and trainees) need to be licensed as named users.
  • SAP software may be delivered with detailed customizing settings and master data that have been preconfigured to meet the requirements of a specific industry sector or country (SAP Best Practices packages). The right to use SAP Best   Practices is included in the respective package license. Maintenance does not include delivery of new versions of SAP Best Practices. 

Agility Paradox

We tend to believe that to become innovative and agile, the companies should not have standardized processes. In other words, we tend to believe that standardized processes stifle the innovation. Dr Peter Weill, Chairman of the MIT Sloan School of Management's Center for Information System Research (MIT CISR) disagrees. In an interview to Wall Street Journal, Dr Weill has talked about agility paradox – the companies that have more standardized and digitized business processes are faster to market and to get more revenue from new products. Dr Weill's proposition is backed up by the extensive field research done by MIT CISR so it has to be taken up seriously. And if you think through it for a long time then you will also agree with Dr Weill. I did!

Saturday 30 January 2010

Gartner Perspective on IT Spending in 2010

Gartner has published its take on IT spending in 2010. It is available as free downloadable booklet. Following are the key figures (in billions of USD), worth taking note of.

2007

2008

2009

2010

Worldwide End-User Spending on IT

3,181

3,372

3,198

3,304

Worldwide End-User Spending on Computing Hardware

370

380

317

317

Worldwide Enterprise Spending on Software

209

225

221

231

Worldwide End-User Spending on Telecommunications

1,854

1,958

1,879

1,940

Worldwide End-User Spending on IT Services

747

809

781

816

This booklet provides following 10 top business priorities:

  1. Business process improvement
  2. Reducing enterprise costs
  3. Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
  4. Attracting and retaining new customers
  5. Increasing the use of information/analytics
  6. Creating new products or services (innovation)
  7. Targeting customers and markets more effectively
  8. Managing change initiatives
  9. Expanding current customer relationships
  10. Expanding into new markets and geographies

It also provides top 10 technology priorities:

  1. Business intelligence
  2. Enterprise applications (ERP, CRM and others)
  3. Servers and storage technologies (virtualization)
  4. Legacy application modernization
  5. Collaboration technologies
  6. Networking, voice and data communications
  7. Technical infrastructure
  8. Security technologies
  9. Service-oriented applications and architecture
  10. Document management

Gartner List of Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

In October 2009, during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner declared its list of top 10 strategic technologies for 2010. Here is the list for quick reference:

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. Advanced Analytics
  3. Client Computing
  4. IT for Green
  5. Reshaping the Data Center
  6. Social Computing
  7. Security – Activity Monitoring
  8. Flash Memory
  9. Virtualization for Availability
  10. Mobile Applications

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Describing myself

Today on 60th Republic Day of India, I got into thinking to come out with description of myself. How do I describe myself? Typically we use resumes and profiles to describe ourselves in public life. So updating my resume was my first step. But then I wondered whether I can use any different structure or format.

I am currently involved in developing Triple-3 Framework for IT Strategy Consulting. Why triple-3? Because for IT Strategy Consulting, we intend to do following three activities: understand three factors, examine three areas and recommend using three artifacts. Now I must admit that this triple-3 notion is simply used to increase recall value of the framework. BTW, the framework is under development and I hope to write about it soon.

So I decided to use this notion of Triple-3 to describe myself. After a lot of thinking (I am not that smart!), I came up with my description using following Triple-3 format:

  1. Three Aspirations:
    1. Contribute at least one knowledge artifact (e.g. management framework) in public domain.
    2. Make enough money to become financially secure.
    3. Help improve quality of life for quite a few underprivileged individuals
  2. Three Assets:
    1. More than a decade-long hands-on experience with diverse software tools and technologies.
    2. Management Education from premier institutes (MBA from IIT Bombay and Executive Education at IIM-A & IIM-B).
    3. Good amount of professional networking
  3. Three Action Areas:
    1. Continue to acquire, share and create knowledge in information technology management.
    2. Improve business acumen through work experience.
    3. Systematically increase professional networking.

Preparing this description of oneself is not necessarily an easy task. Do you want to try yourself? What are your three aspirations, three assets and three action areas? Just think over!

Friday 22 January 2010

Board Briefing on IT Governance

Today I read an excellent document published by "The IT Governance Institute" on the topic of IT Governance. The document is titled as "Board Briefing on IT Governance". Written for Board members as target audience, this 63-page document provides an excellent introductory view of the IT Governance area. Following are my takeaways from reading this publication, in the form of Q&A:

  • What is IT Governance?
    • IT governance is the responsibility of the board of directors and executive management. It is an integral part of enterprise governance and consists of the leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure that the organization's IT sustains and extends the organization's strategies and objectives.
  • Why is IT Governance important?
    • With IT now so intrinsic and pervasive within enterprises, governance needs to pay special attention to IT, reviewing how strongly the enterprise relies on IT and how critical IT is for the execution of the business strategy, since:
      • IT is critical in supporting and enabling enterprise goals.
      • IT is strategic to the business (growth and innovation).
      • Due diligence is increasingly required relative to the IT implications of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Whom does it concern?
    • IT governance, like most other governance activities, intensively engages both board and executive management in a cooperative manner. However, due to complexity and specialization, the board and executive must set direction and insist on control, while needing to rely on the lower layers in the enterprise to provide the information required in decision-making and evaluation activities.
  • What can they do about it?
    • Both Board and Management should engage in following activities:
      • Become informed of role and impact of IT on the enterprise
      • Assign responsibilities
      • Make transformation happen
      • Manage risk
    • Only Board should engage in following activities:
      • Set direction and expected return
      • Define constraints within which to operate
      • Measure performance
      • Obtain assurance
    • Only Management should engage in following activities:
      • Determine required capabilities and investments
      • Sustain current operations
      • Acquire and mobilize resources
  • What does IT Governance cover?
    • Strategic Alignment - focusing on aligning with the business and collaborative solutions
    • Value Delivery - concentrating on optimizing expenses and proving the value of IT
    • Risk Management - addressing the safeguarding of IT assets, disaster recovery and continuity of operations
    • Resource Management - optimizing knowledge and IT infrastructure
    • Performance Measurement - tracking project delivery and monitoring IT services
  • How does your organization compare?
    • The use of maturity model greatly simplifies this task and provides a pragmatic and structured approach for measuring how well developed an enterprise's processes are against a consistent and easy-to-understand scale. Following maturity scale could be useful:
      • 0 Nonexistent – Management processes are not applied at all
      • 1 Initial – Processes are ad hoc and disorganized
      • 2 Repeatable – Process follow a regular pattern
      • 3 Defined – Processes are documented and communicated
      • 4 Managed – Processes are monitored and measured
      • 5 Optimized – Best practices are followed and automated
  • What reference material exists?
    • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), issued by the IT Governance Institute
  • What is the ultimate message?
    • IT Governance should be integrated within Enterprise Governance.
    • IT Governance Roles and Responsibilities need to be defined.
    • IT Governance Implementation Plan is required.

Book Review: The Secrets of Consulting

Written by Gerald Weinberg, this book provides memorable rules, laws and principles for becoming a successful consultant. Since the language is quite witty, it's fun to read this book. There are more than 100 laws, a list of which is provided at the end of the book. But it's important to read these laws in the flow of the book though a list makes a good reference. Out of these laws, I found following laws quite useful. Please note that this is personal selection and to appreciate these laws, one will need to read the book (or the chapter which contains it).

  • If you can't accept failure, you'll never succeed as a consultant
  • In spite of what your client will tell you, there is always a problem.
  • If they didn't hire you, don't solve their problem.
  • We can do it – and this is how much it will cost.
  • Things are the way they are because they got that way.
  • It may look like a crisis, but it's only the end of an illusion.
  • You'll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit.
  • Pricing is not a zero-sum game.
  • Set the price so you won't regret it either way.
  • The best marketing tool is a satisfied client.
  • The trick of earning trust is to avoid all tricks.
  • Never be dishonest even if the client requests it.
  • Spend at least one day a week getting exposure.
  • Never promise more than 10% improvement. If you happen to achieve more than 10% improvement, make sure it is not noticed.

Friday 8 January 2010

A Viewpoint on Open Source Software

I recently attended Interop 2009, in which one CIO provided his views on open source software. Being a strong advocate of open source software, I found these views quite interesting and useful.

Firstly, the speaker classified the open source software into two categories: popular open source software and not-so-popular open source software. The popular open source software included Apache web server, mySQL database, Linux etc. As per the speaker, there are no issues with the popular open source software; rather they should be used as they provide low-cost alternatives to proprietary software plus they provide simpler licensing as compared to that of proprietary software products. On the other hand, he noted two problems with not-so-popular open source software. Firstly there is inadequate number of people that can be hired to customize/configure and secondly, one can't be sure about the security since not many people would have evaluated the not-so-popular software.

I tend to agree with him. I see a laundry list of open source software alternatives for a given product category but always recommend the ones which have got the maximum community involvement. Now how one can measure the community involvement? I typically go by the sourceforge.net ratings and/or reviews in the blogs and press. Though this method is quite imprecise, I guess one can easily build a quick list of recommended (read: popular) open source software for each product category. Let me make an attempt in my next blog!