Virtualization is obviously a fact of life now. It occupies a central role in future IT architectures and is a cloud building block. We’ve covered virtualization and connection brokers in the past, and have even reviewed some desktop virtualization products. There is, in fact, some interesting virtualization work happening in Pakistan also. Some of the major players that are fighting the battle for virtualization supremacy include VMware - the entrenched gorilla, Microsoft - the giant that could, Citrix - the desktop company that came late to the party and is now paying, and Oracle - which both fears virtualization and is confused about how exactly to gain a substantial foothold with its Sun assets. And of course there are other players, like IBM for example, which has a great virtualization platform for its Power7 architecture. Niche, smaller companies that are providing virtualization management tools, connection brokering technology or a variety of other related remoting protocols and monitoring applications. Nonetheless, the most entertaining contest seems to be between Microsoft and VMware on a global level, and more specifically, between Citrix and VMware on the desktop virtualization/VDI front. [Read the rest of this entry...]
Redefining Identity: A fascinating documentary about innovation and software entrepreneurship in Pakistan
I just received a message from the folks over at FiveRivers who have produced this wonderful documentary on innovation & entrepreneurship in Pakistan. It’s really worth watching, and I love the underlying message: the notion that we can redefine our perceived identity with our hard work and achievements. I can certainly sign up for that, and I’m sure so would you!
Here’s a bit more about the documentary:
“Redefining Identity takes a look at the amazing entrepreneurship and creativity that is being unleashed in Pakistan, where young technologists are coming together to lead a very real revolution that has powerful social, economic and technological implications. In doing so, these young Pakistanis are also transforming Pakistan’s perception in the minds of millions of people all around the world who use their products and appreciate their creativity. This 10 minute film is a rare glimpse into the reality of today’s Pakistan. Anyone with an interest in technology and startups in general, or Pakistan specifically, will find it a very worthwhile watch.” [Read the rest of this entry...]
Seymour Cray’s name is legend. It adorns some of the fastest, most striking computers ever built. It is synonymous with supercomputing and evokes unparalleled architectural notions that are impossible to ignore for any student of high performance computing. He is perhaps the greatest computer architect ever, and while his area of focus was on the high end and unconcerned with popular computing, many of his innovations have allowed modern day computers to be what they are. Cray, in fact, beyond his statute as a legend is also an example that young engineers and computer scientists should aspire to emulate. He so routinely pushed the edge and expanded the realm of the possible, that he provides an undying illustration of the adage, “Nothing is impossible”.
Seymour Cray is important for another reason. He represents what made America great. He is the quintessential American engineer who came of age in the second world war and then powered America’s rise through the 50s and 60s to become the most powerful nation on earth. He embodies a mix of brilliance, practicality and a roll-up-your-sleeves-get-it-done attitude that is uniquely American. You can lean more about this great visionary and computer architect by reading about him on Wikipedia. But for now, let’s watch him deliver a talk that was thankfully recorded for posterity. Here he is, the man himself, Mr Seymour Cray: [Read the rest of this entry...]
Lahore-based Pepper.pk has been in the news quite a bit recently and that’s only because they’ve been doing newsworthy things! They’ve just completed a previously unparalleled feat – their third application, Ninja Fruit Bash, has hit World #1 on Blackberry Appworld. With over 25,000 applications now listed on the marketplace, this is no small achievement if you accomplish it just once. But three times, and that too, within the span of a single year, is just unbelievable.
The Express Tribune has covered their achievement here. And you can learn more about the application at this Pepper.pk micro-site focused on the game. Once can see that the finesse in these apps is continuing to become more and more pronounced. [Read the rest of this entry...]
There’s been a flurry of economy related news about Pakistan recently, and we’ve tried to hit the highlights at least. Another positive development is the substantial growth in Pakistan’s foreign reserve position which has now reached an all time historic high of $18.25B. This increase is due to many factors, the two most important being the increase in foreign exchange remittances being sent to the country by Pakistani workers abroad, and the improvement in the import/export gap. That this high has been achieved at a time when global oil prices are relatively steep, is even more expensive. One would imagine that as oil prices ease – which seems to be an almost universal expectation – the rate of growth of the national foreign exchange reserve would accelerate further.
The implications of this rise are interesting. In the near-medium term, one would imagine this addresses any fears of weakness in the Pakistani Rs. So for near/medium term investments of foreign moneys into Pakistan, value loss due to a depreciation in the Pak Rs. presents a much reduced risk. With that being considered, the KSE is still posting tremendous returns and numerous banks in the country are offering 11-14.5% returns on deposits, CDs and TFCs. 10-11% is fairly typical on CD-like instruments with a 90-180 day maturity. Research has shown that, in Pakistan, the foreign exchange reserve position actually has a positive correlation with the stock market levels. So a rise in the reserve levels almost certainly implies a rise in the KSE index. Thus, with the foreign exchange rising continuously, remittances increasing and hence the Pak Rs. stabilizing, an 11% return on a 90 day note presents a great opportunity for short term, almost no risk exposure to the Pakistani market, with tremendous return potential. There is nothing to suggest that a large number of folks have picked up on this opportunity, but we’ll see if this becomes a popular option in the weeks ahead. [Read the rest of this entry...]
I’m travelling in the US on business and one of the things I’ve been pretty impressed with is how great my remote desktop connections with my office in Lahore have been from pretty much every US city I’ve visited. I’ve been regularly pulling down large (multi-gig) files stored on our servers in Lahore and also conducting latency sensitive remote control practically on a daily basis. It’s not just the bandwidth, but also the relatively low latency (considering that I’m connecting to the other end of the planet) that makes things work well. Since there is so much software and IT outsourcing now happening from the US to Pakistan, I decided I would try to measure the quality of connectivity between the two countries and compare it with another outsourcing destination, for example, India. Here are my results:
I don’t usually share stuff like this, but this particular piece of garbage is so preposterous - while at the same time – villainous, that it just has to be commented on. I chanced upon it at a financial website I visit quite routinely. The “presentation” in question is basically an ad for a company called Agora Financial, and what they’re peddling is financial/investment information. Their premise on why you would be interested in their crap is the “fact” that they have uncovered a gigantic coming tsunami that has been almost 1,400 years in the making!
Built on the illogic of ridiculously warped history which includes gems such as the, shall we say, “innovation” that the (“controversial”, according to this presentation) Prophet Muhammad passed away due to the consumption of poisoned lamb, this glorified ad goes on to suggest that a war between “shias and sunnis” is coming, and that it will engulf the entire Middle East. Yeah, right. That war between the shias and sunnis predictions of which have been tucked away in the back pages of 50c evening tabloids. That very same war which certain vested interest groups tried to spark within Iraq, but which never quite took off… why? Because, frankly, the shia/sunni divide is hogwash. Shias and sunnis have lived together throughout the muslim world, and but for the funded hatred by certain despots who also happen to be the favourite customers of the world’s largest arms vendors, there ain’t much raw material to work with there. We’re not talking about South African apartheid, or American Civil Rights era discrimination… but when did logic get in the way of fear mongering? And especially when such fear mongering is driven by the motivation for profit. [Read the rest of this entry...]
The Dawn of Desktop Virtualization
Desktop virtualization is all the rage these days, with all the leading industry publications evangelizing its virtues day and night. We’ve tried our hand with numerous VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) products and find that the set of tools are now rapidly maturing. One of the products that’s particularly impressive is the Virtual Desktop Platform (VDP) by VDIworks. In this post, we’ll try to explain why.
One of the core challenges with desktop virtualization has been complexity. The complexity of deploying all the required components, the complexity of managing the environment, the complexity of changing existing desktop support models and workflows to account for the new infrastructure, and so on. One of the sorely missed features in VDI management technology has been integration. In other words, the ability for an administrator to quickly and simply visualize their environment and solve their problems from a single management console. Not everyone has the ability or time to install and monitor six or seven different management solutions just to support their VDI install, but yet, this is what most vendors push you towards. Let us give you some examples. [Read the rest of this entry...]
There’s quite a bit to feel good about with respect to the recent news regarding the Pakistani economy. Here is a quick summary:
1) When the floods hit, there was widespread reporting that the budget deficit would hit 7% and in fact, some commentators from across the border even speculated that it would reach 8%. In the Finance Minister’s budget speech, it was confirmed that the budget deficit actually reached only 5.1% for the year, a far cry from 7 or 8%. This is perhaps just one more indication that on the subject of Pakistan, whatever negativity you see in the press, you should generously discount. This economy was able to weather the WoT, the global financial crisis and the floods quite well in 2010. [Read the rest of this entry...]
With all the nonsense in the press since May 2, you would think the world was about to come to an end. But no. As usual, the NY Times and WaPo have about as much credibility on the subject of Pakistan as do the predictions of that nutcase Denver based right-wing priest, Harold Camping, and his Christian Family Radio on the subject of the Earth’s longevity. And if a loud echoing, face-reddening slap could be delivered to such naysayers for the animal excrement one now finds plastered on the front pages of the Post and the Times, it was this: The Karachi Stock Exchange, Pakistan’s largest bourse, has closed on a 3 1/2 month high at 12,198.12 points. Forget the PM’s speech in Parliament and forget whatever Gen. Kiyani has to say. Let’s focus on reality and the facts on the ground. Let’s focus on what thousands of investors and business people who are connected to the core of this country and are clued in to tens of thousands of active projects actually think about the future. [Read the rest of this entry...]