Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Virtual Telecommunications

We all acknowledge that the world as it stands today would not be the same had it not been for Mr. Alexander Graham Bell.

"Telecommunication is transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. In earlier times, this may have involved the use of smoke signals, drums, semaphore, flags or heliograph. In modern times, telecommunication typically involves the use of electronic devices such as the telephone, television, radio or computer. Early inventors in the field of telecommunication include Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi and John Logie Baird. Telecommunication is an important part of the world economy and the telecommunication industry's revenue was estimated to be $1.2 trillion in 2006."

Now, you must be wondering what is an IBMer (me) doing writing about telecommunications (because IBM does not manufacture or integrate telecommunications devices). Well, IBM does provide systems integration business capabilities for many well-known telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Verizon, etc.

What comes to your mind when you first think of Virtual Telecommunications?
  • Marketing buzzword
  • Probably some new technology that introduces low cost telecommunications..lower than Vonage
  • Being on or simulated on a computer or computer network
  • Telecommunications system in 2nd life
  • IBM's Virtual Telecommunications Access Method (VTAM)
  • AT&T's Virtual Telecommunications Network Service

If you guessed something else, then, perhaps you may have made the right guess.

If you have been closely following the evolution with telecommunications devices: Blackberry Curve -> iPhone -> iPhone 2.0 -> iPhone 2.0 S ->Motorola Droid => the logical next step is virtual telecommunications devices.

Yes, I deliberately left out Blackberry devices because those have become obsolete (lacking continuous innovation) and RIM has failed to keep up with changing times. 

My Hypothesis:
I believe Virtual Telecommunications will be a logical evolution at the end of 2010 and will materialize in 2011 - encapsulating macroeconomics around the globe. It will revolutionize telecommunications to an extent, but without disrupting the existing framework. Imagine a world where an electronic device could morph itself and gain adaptive logical functions to be able to communicate with other devices. This will require advancements in device firmware technology, device interconnect wireless protocol, device stabilization management software, and device interconnect security management. The key innovation will be around peer-to-peer device networking. In 2011, you will walk into a Shopping Mall and your telecommunications device will contextually provision itself to tell you what you need to know. It's going to be the ultra-smart phone. How? It is the only device closest to everything you own and use at your home, your office, in your car and other places. As devices interconnect in this new fashion and exchange basic information about each other your telecommunications device will have an internal database of what you use, frequency of use and miscellaneous usage characteristics. As the telecommunications device owner one would control the specific inter-device communications specifications via personalized definitions, which will retain security administration by the individual. And, it's not going to be Apple that will be at the fore front of this next wave. So, who will it be? You will just have to wait until 2011 to find out when it becomes public news.

  1. Wikipedia::Telecommunications
  2. Virtual Telecommunications Access Method (VTAM)
  3.  AT&T's Virtual Telecommunications Network Service 

Virtual Telecommunications is one of my pet projects.

I hope the readers got a taste of the nature of changes to expect in 2011.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Virtual Semiconductor Research and Development

Semiconductor technology growth is very essential for everyone - not just companies - not just individuals - but everyone. Every device we use today - cell phones, automobiles, laptops, servers, toys, TVs, digital media devices etc. - all have hundreds to millions of transistors. Super computers boast billions of transistors.

Friday of last week, during a corporate networking event I met many IBM executives - who ranked from Director to VP.An interesting conversation I had was with the Director of Design and Technology Integration. One of the functions he is responsible for is 'designer productivity tools' for semiconductor technology development. The Director is being challenged with surpassing the physical limitations imposed by Moore's Law.

While it is true to an extent to assume that there are plenty of designer tools for semiconductor technology development, used not only at IBM but also at companies such as Intel, TSMC, AMD, SONY, Fuzitsu etc., there is innovation waiting to happen in this space.

Moore's Law 

The law is named after Intel's co-founder Gordon E. Moore, who introduced it in a 1965 paper.
"Transistors per integrated circuit. The most popular formulation is of the doubling of the number of transistors on integrated circuits every two years"

There are other derivatives of Moore's Law too but this one is most pertinent to my discussion. 

I am paraphrasing Moore's law and I say it as - unless a semiconductor foundry is able to double the number of transistors every two years the economics will fail. By economics I mean a business model that will be sustainable and profitable. There are few in this world who know that semiconductor research and development is at the brink of either extinction or about to witness the greatest innovation - ever in history.

The problem is as follows: With the continuous scaling down of transistor design on integrated circuits - such as from 130nm to 90nm to 65nm to 45nm to 32nm to 22mm - current research has shown that 15nm might be the point of inevitability - where two transistors that are 15nm apart will merely disintegrate rather than create the electronic circuit. Unless we are able to find a way to make 15nm work it is fair to say that we have hit Moore's Law limit. Technologically the semiconductor business is on a race against time with little less than 2 years to discover the design for 15nm semiconductor development.

The race against time: If only if this discussion were to be as easy as watching Survivor or other game shows on TV - where the contestants have to accomplish a goal given certain resources in preset conditions, and the one who achieves the goal in the shortest time is the winner. Trust me, semiconductor business is one of the hardest. Guess what happens when we are no longer able to produce 2x transistors on the same chip-scale as today? The result will be that the next set of chips will be sold for more than 1x the price as today's chips. Such is not a winning proposition for any company. As we know already, tomorrow's new technology cannot be sold for more than the price of today's.

We have begun to explore applying the Virtual Fabrication technology, as I have described here has done a lot of good for IBM's Semiconductor Manufacturing division, by extrapolating to semiconductor research and development. We believe that Virtual Fabrication technology will once again come to the rescue - providing the resources, modeling, and an environment to host and run development programs - ultimately helping scientists discover the way to continued semiconductor technology growth. Such will also witness growth and major enhancements in Virtual Fabrication technology, which will fuel the hybrid nature of semiconductor research and development programs.

It is possible to have Virtual Semiconductor Research and Development?           Yes.

Only time will whether 'Virtual Semiconductor Research and Development' will save the day when semiconductor technology was almost about to become extinct. As of now, the hopes and promises are very high within the four walls of IBM. More to come on this topic. For now, all I can tell you is that IBM will break Moore's law.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Virtual Fabrication Saves It All

Is this just another instance where the word 'virtual' is being coined to attract readers' attention?


It was October 2004, I was sitting in my office, drinking coffee that I made myself using the coffee machine I acquired from my colleague next door, who was no longer with us. Normally, when I am just sitting and drinking coffee, without having much to think about, I find it somewhat boring. However, this was not just one of those moments. I had something better going on then; I had just come out of a meeting with my manager and his team where we had just discussed a business problem at hand. I was thinking, this could be the moment I have been waiting for, until then – working on one of the hardest problems. When the story ends, I admit that I had not encountered a harder problem in the short 7 years of professional career as a technologist.

When I solved the business crisis, I had created a ‘virtual enterprise’ to host and run nearly 70 unique applications on over 4 dozen mid-to-high end servers. The enterprise is called: Virtual Fabricator, a Factory model, based on Unified Modeling Language (UML), meta-models and open standards that has, since 2005, been used for IT Systems, Applications and Infrastructure development, testing and qualification. Additionally, the Virtual Fabricator has a powerful framework of software components that provide a fully simulated instance of a Manufacturing Fabricator that provides absolutely the latest capabilities (tools and know-how) for end-to-end IT validation (functional & performance) and business process emulation & validation.

At the end of 2005 the Virtual Fabricator was nicknamed “vFab”. Today, I hold 7 pending patents and 1 granted patent and 2 publications. I do not want to bore the readers with my technical accomplishments. However, I do want to share with you the breadth of technical dimensions I had to study and apply the learning to solve the business crisis.

Briefly, I applied the following technical dimensions in creating my Virtual Fabricator Enterprise, over a span of 3 years:
  • Event-based logic (triggers, simulation, emulation)
  • Distributed computing (agents, architecture)
  • Business process execution system
  • Meta-data modeling for data reconstruction and transmission
  • Markup language (XML like) for business process execution and validation

Today, the Virtual Fabricator is an enterprise that is available 24x7x365. With nearly $500K in resource funding over 3 years, I have used it to facilitate corporate growth to the amounts of $25 or greater on year to year.

The corporate growth at IBM’s Technology Group (TG) ( as Ihave described here has come through introduction and successful adoption of following programs:
  • Agile transition from heavier waterfall development process
  • Test driven development of developed applications
    • Automated testing framework that is built-into vFab
  • More prosperous strategic plan aligning prioritization of corporate developmental programs with resource availability

To summarize, project accomplishments also helped IBM win the Top FAB award in 2005 (

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The "entry-end" server systems

Since I work for IBM, I am most definitely an avid fan of IBM's business models. However, IBM has not always made the best decision and done the most righteous thing. However, this particular case that I am writing about begs to get a second glance.

Recently, there was a press release that "More Than 200 Additional Customers Switch To IBM Systems From Sun, HP", as reported by Reuters.

Since the dawn of UNIX server industry, there has been no doubt that IBM has consistently gained margin and share in the high-end server segment.

While companies such as SUN, HP and DELL have continuously argued that it's possible to 'blade everything'' perhaps it was just HP that argues so; it is proven now that the server market is probably as segmented as the clothing or retail industry.

I am going to quote this paragraph from the Reuters news article "IBM's momentum continues in UNIX servers, where the company gained 7.4 points in the second quarter to lead with 41.4 percent revenue share, ahead of Sun at 27.3 percent (down 4.4 points) and HP at 24.8 percent (down 1.6 points), according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker. IBM is the only major UNIX vendor to gain revenue share in the past five years (+11 points) while both Sun (-2.5 points) and HP (-4.6 points) lost share. "

The most important question that we have to ask ourselves is how was IBM able to gain market share from HP and SUN despite the unfavorable business conditions? Well, although I work for IBM I cannot disclose whatever I may know to help you get an answer.

I will share with you my general perspective though, as an outsider. IBM has successfully leveraged and used the extremely hard economic times to inject a new an invigorate spirit of technical innovation into the "entry-end" server systems (System X and BladeCenter). If you are an IBM investor you would want to keep this thought in your mind.

We all like to pursue and propel innovation in good times. But innovation that happens in the turbulent, uncertain and unsettled times is what will come to last forever. Thus, we are going to witness, which has not come to past yet, an era of business excellence from IBM server systems (the entry-end) that will be fueled by the spurge of technical innovation, which will deliver "real and long lasting value".

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cloud Computing: Amazon vs. XYZ vs. Google

What can an Enterprise Solutions Provider do, notwithstanding the tug-off war between Google and Amazon?

Let's take a hypothetical company called XYZ. XYZ is a major player in enterprise business transformation and solutions. XYZ is now in the process of building public clouds and offering solutions to other companies so they can build their own private clouds. Today, XYZ is aggressively pursuing it’s strategy of developing it’s Cloud Computing solution for Enterprise and SMB space.

The business conditions today:
  • Amazon’s Cloud Computing play -- Amazon wants to help companies leverage it’s storage Infrastructure
  • I have researched Amazon Web Services (both EC2 and S3) and I understand Amazon's Cloud strategy and how that differs from XYZ's and Google's
  • Google is also in the SMB space, but both XYZ and Amazon have to be very watchful of Google. Google is very good at silently and artistically expanding it's market share and it can hurt both Amazon and XYZ tomorrow
  • Unlike XYZ's or Amazon's strategy it is relatively harder to clearly understand Google's
  • My bet*: With Google's Chrome OS (light weight OS with a very powerful and slim web browser) coming out in 2010, Google will likely become a dominant player in Cloud Computing space
  • My bet*: Google will leverage Chrome OS and Chrome Web-browser to enter Enterprise space, which XYZ is trying to dominate today
  • Quick and easy adoption of Chrome OS + Web-browser will propel Google as a likely #1 player in SMB space
  • Consider the Microsoft reaction Microsoft to Google’s competition (from Chrome OS)
  • Revenue: There is no doubt that Amazon wants to be the #1 Cloud Computing provider today (primarily SMB)
  • Merrill Lynch Estimates "Cloud Computing" To Be $160 Billion Market in 2011

Google's Cloud Computing Solutions Offering:

  • Existing Google Products on the web: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and other web apps, Google provides these apps to Company employees.
  • It's all hosted by Google, saving the company time, money and hassles of managing these IT solutions.
  • Outsourcing to Google lets companies run their business instead of running routine IT systems.
  • Google Apps is 1/3 the total cost of competing solutions.
  • No special hardware or software is required, and Google runs the servers so company can focus on it’s business.
  • Data can remain on Google's infrastructure, rather than on unsecured devices.
  • Get better reliability than on-premises solutions, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.** (** as advertised on

To summarize, it is too early to say how the Cloud Computing market will get segmented. Some say that Cloud sees no barrier across SMB and Enterprise, but I disagree - every business market eventually gets segmented - because every client has at least one unique business requirement. The business and technology people would vastly benefit from a Marketing Report on Cloud Computing, as we understand it will be in 2010 and beyond.

Another argument, while it is possible to propose business development case studies for XYZ, Google and Amazon or any other company for that matter, the key tenant of my blog is that - it all depends on how a company leverages the imminent business conditions to drive cloud technology growth for itself and for it's clients. The technology growth will thereafter fuel additional and high-value business growth. When we see that happening, we will have seen another example of how Business would have come to the Aid of Technology; Clouded Technology in this case.

Analysis in this blog is by Rakesh Parimi.

Recession and Supply Chain

This is my first public blog. I have written many corporate blogs at IBM.

Recently, I did an interview for, a e-Journal for Supply Chain Professionals.

I was asked questions like:
1. How do you think the recession has changed the future of supply chain management?
2. How has recession affected me?
3. Has the recession helped or harmed innovation?

You can read my interview here.

After the interview, I was motivated to write about how recession, looking at it as a business condition, has come to aid technology growth in the supply chain industry.

When I was studying Master in Computer Science at SUNY Albany, NY, my first job was at Its a B2B solutions provider. I was a software engineer there for 6 months, in 1999. B2B was a big thing back in 1999. Many thought that there would be exponential growth in B2B services because of the IT boom that we had seen in 1999. However, business conditions went sour very quickly after the 'dot com' crash at the end of '99. I left the job to take up being a teaching assistant of data structures and algorithms.

There was something I learnt from my brief exposure to B2B supply chain, which is that the true potential of B2B had not been realized before the IT industry crash.

My opinion is that we are about to see a new and renewed wave of B2B and even B2C innovation because of the current business conditions, which are affected by imminent recession.

So keep an eye out for B2B and B2C start-ups of new ventures to keep supply chain growing in US and around the world.

This is an example where business has to the aid of technology. Specifically, the dying B2B and B2C technology is seeing a spur of activities driven by business demands and conditions.