Saturday, 11 June 2011

Weekly Report(4th-10th June 2011)

After Facebook's OpenCompute project it is now Joulex, a startup working on enterprise energy management systems for data centers and distributed office environments. It snapped $17 million for the mission.
Avantium, the company that develops and commercializes YXY, its own invented chemical building blocks for making green materials and fuels raised 30 million EUR. Funds will be used for building a pilot plant to demonstrate its YXY technology. The pilot plant will also be able to produce larger volumes of YXY building blocks for application development of new, green plastics, chemicals and materials.
Birch Communications, provider of IP-based telecommunications and managed services to SMBs secured $77.5 million funding. received an investments of $200 million. Incorporated enables digital coupon programs – including online printable, Save to Card and mobile promotions. We can expect more shift of coupons from newspapers to digital world.
GrabCAD, place to connect manufacturing and product development companies with CAD engineers, snapped $1.1 million funding. The funds will be used for hiring and strengthening the team.
buuteeq, the Digital Marketing System (DMS) for hotels, grabbed $3.5M in series A round. With buuteeq's subscription-based service, hotels can easily create and manage high-performing web, mobile and Facebook sites, promotions and reservations, all from one place; eliminating the need for custom hotel website design.
eWise, provider of payments and online financial management solutions, raised $14 million. Funds will be utilised in expansion of its technology Secure Vault Payments.

Visa, a leader in payments is acquiring Fundamo, which has its platform for financial services for mobile network operators and financial institutions in developing economies. Visa seems to be expanding its horizons greatly. It has also signed an agreement with Monitise, a provider of mobile money solutions.
Facebook acquired Sofa(, a company started in 2006 that makes useful and enjoyable products. Sofa's products- Kaleidoscope and Versions do not form a part of this acquisition.
Virsto, company that is transforming storage for virtual machines acquired EvoStor, a specialist in storage virtualization technology for VMware environments. Visto also received a funding of $12 million in series B funding round.

METISMO provides a platform to develop cross platform mobile apps. Once created it can automatically transform your application into various mobile device formats. Various data-types like audio, video etc from your mobile can be easily integrated. The way this platform works is- you write your application in java and it converts your java code into mobile device specific code.
It got acquired by Software AG. Software AG products include Adabas - where you can store any amount of data and it is the first high performance transactional database; ARIS Platform- the first business process analysis platform; webMethods - SOA based integration platform; NaturalONE- an eclipse based IDE to develop and manage your applications.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Conference On Cloud Computing

Recently I attended 2nd IndicThreads Conference On Cloud Computing.

About IndicThreads :
IndicThreads is one of India’s leading tech+media brands and has been successfully running the online magazine & hosting some of India’s finest independent technology conferences.

Speakers talked about various cloud platforms, cloud services in various forms, security aspects of cloud, cloud testing, monitoring your application in the cloud etc.

Here are a few highlights:

Scalable Architecture on Amazon AWS Cloud - Amazon Elastic Loadbalancing distributes incoming traffic to your app across several EC2 instances and reroutes traffic accordingly. Auto-scaling is enabled by Amazon CloudWatch. Amazon SimpleDB is schema-less with distributed key-value store and is scalable, has auto-indexing and has API based search. AWS Relational Database Service (RDS) lets you scale your DB layer with minimum administration. MySQLand Oracle are supported and you can import existing databases without any changes to app.

OpenStack Ecosystem and Xen Cloud Platform - Main idea behind OpenStack was to open source cloud computing platform that is simple to
implement and massively scalable. Available as OpenStack Compute(Nova), Storage(Swift) and Image Service(Glance). Openstack is built on a shared-nothing, messaging-based architecture using AMPQ based queues.
Xen Cloud Platform(XCP) is open source platform to build clouds, a cloud optimised version of Xen and has virtualization platform that consists of Xen hypervisor, network and storage support.
OpenStack supports XCP through XenAPI. OpenStack Compute interacts with the XCP hypervisor (XEN).

Processing massive amount of data with Map Reduce using Apache Hadoop - Map is applying a function to a list of elements and returning the modified list. Reduce/Fold reduces a list of values to a single value/element. With Hadoop MapReduce, you need to create your Mapper, Combiner(when the function to be applied is commutative and associative) to minimize the number of key value pairs that will be shuffled across the network between mappers and reducers, Partitioner that controls the partitioning of the keys of the intermediate map-outputs and Reducer

Easy ORM-ness with Objectify-Appengine- Entities, Operations(get, put, delete and query), Keys and Transactions form the basics of any datastore. Objectify supports these native features and provides type safe key and query classes. Objectify is light weight, maintains simplicity and transparency of low level API and does the work of converting to and from POJOs to Entity Objects.Certain practices will make Objectifying very easy: use of DAO to register entities, scanning only on demand, using batch gets rather than queries, lower usage of indexing and avoiding @Parent.

Cloud security - In public clouds you need to have strong identity management, secure keys, access to compliance and logging, wipeout policies. In private ones scope should be left for moving to a hybrid model and imposing SSO is preferred practice. Using hybrid ones segregate your data between clouds, use SAML, hHave your Federation set up correctly, enable SSO and ensure that enterprise credentials do not move into the cloud. Safe Browsing API and VM Safe API are the APIs useful in cloud security.

Cloud Lock-in and Interoperability - Locking in with a cloud would mean higher costs being paid and incompatible technology, for the customer. Portability will mean choice to move out of cloud or another cloud without losing any data or even the log-files. There are standards like Distributed Management Task Force(DTMF), Storage Networking Industry Association(SNIA) and Cloud Security Alliance(CSA).

Cloud development with CloudFoundry - CoudFoundry overcomes the issues that exists in present PaaS i.e. Google App Engine like: lack of cloud portability, tightly coupled with a certain environment and deployment on public clouds only. CloudFoundry is open source and with it you can to deploy on public or private cloud.

Monitoring Cloud Applications- There are various challenges at various levels involved such as at user, system and network level. You should be able to scale your app on cloud dynamically with no impact on monitored infrastructure. Monitoring tools should be portable and light weight.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk - Gives a handy way to deploy apps especially the ones using Tomcat stack. You have complete control over your AWS resources. Hence you can choose any database, access your Ec2 instances, create custom AMIs as well as move app out from Beanstalk with great ease. Apart from the command line tools and APIs, you can access Beanstalk using AWS Toolkit for Eclipse and AWS Management Console.

Apigee - API Management Platform : Apigee provides free API tools for developers and is the leading API management platform for enterprises.

loggly - Log Management in the Cloud : Loggly is a cloud based logging service. With Loggly, you can collect logs from your servers and then quickly search them with an intuitive user interface. We make looking at logs fast, fun and easy!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

When You Want Employees to Put Extra Hours...

Many a times employers/managers want employees to work on weekends or longer hours per day. Is it fair? This has no concrete answer as yes or no. If you are someone who is watching work hours more than productivity, it is likely that you want your team to put extra hours at office even without major task delivery.

If reaching the deadline is your main concern then yes asking for extra hours makes sense. But if you are making it as a regular practice you may need to review your strategies again. May be something unwarranted is consuming more time like status calls or meetings, or you are going wrong in project work and time estimation, or you give a lazy start and demand to cover up at the end. For sure if you make it a routine to come to office on weekends, most of the folks will not be willing to do so. But just that boss is boss, your wish is being treated as command!

If there were unexpected pot-holes and unexpected amount of time got consumed to fill them up, it is absolutely fair to ask team for extra hours. But how do you make that as a willingness and not just as an order? As a founder or person behind the idea you might want everyone in the team to have the same passion and spirit as you have. It will not come naturally though. Keep the team motivated and energetic. Your own enthusiasm towards work and efforts for it will be capable of injecting the same spirit in others. Value their inputs, suggestions. Appreciate their performance.....that gives you the right to express your unhappiness for a poorly performed task too. Everyone should be given the feeling of being equally important and indispensable for the project. Happy employees = productive employees (true most of the times).Team members should have the feeling that you view each and everyone under the same lens and no favoritism is being shown towards anyone.

You getting your team members involved more on all the fronts of project will help to feel the ownership. In many startups employees don't feel job security or delayed salaries form a major concern. Such insecurity naturally keeps them in the quiet loop of being in hunt for a better job. Such hurdles can be overcome by sharing updates like what all projects have been signed off and what is expected in pipeline. Of course you should be not be far away from ground reality!

Ultimately it is the feeling of loyalty towards you and the work that your team will go beyond the call of duty to help you out.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Weekly Report(28th May-3rd June 2011)

UberMedia raised $5.6 million. Its various popular Twitter apps count to 13% of the total Twitter traffic. Ubermedia plans to utilize the funds in growing its partnerships.
OnSwipe, which provides 'Insanely easy tablet publishing' raised $5 million in series A, referred to as series Awesome by them. They plan to use the funds for hiring the best HTML5 team, apart from the their monstrous work.
MobileIron secured $20 million in fourth round of funding. It creates mobile device management tools and security tools for enterprise systems.
ValueAppeal, a company that helps home owners file appeals on their property taxes in US, raised $1.6 million. With the added capital the website is going to be enhanced further. 
Portalarium, the developer and publisher of premium online games and virtual worlds for popular social networks and mobile platforms, closed its second round of funding.
Appsfire, a French startup easing out apps discovery, secured $3.6 million funding.

Google acquired PostRank, a social analytics company. PostRank social engagement data measures actual user activity, the most accurate indicator of the relevance and influence of a site, story, or author.
The developer company of Angry Birds game- Rovio, acquired a leading Finland-based animation studio Kombo. This acquisition is a clear indication of Rovio's animation capabilities growing stronger. 
Twitter acquired AdGrok, that simplifies internet advertising for one and all. Using the grokbar, you’ll be following all the Google AdWords best practices automatically.
OpenX, the online advertising company grabbed $20 million in fourth round of funding. SAP is known to be interested in real-time enterprise products, which is why they have invested in OpenX.

Google released developer preview of WebRTC, a free and open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple Javascript APIs. Developer community can integrate this technology in their own apps and products.
The advent of June 2011 marked the download number of games by Blackflip Studios to have crossed 100 million. For a small company having such a big number in mere 2 years is indeed a significant achievement.
Heyzap, an online popular network that lets check-in apps for games on Android devices has launched its app for iPhone now.