Monthly Archives: October 2009

Technical Seminar on Sun’s ZFS (file system) from KQInfoTech

What: Technical seminar on ZFS (file-system) from Sun, presented by KQInfoTech
When: Friday, 9th October, 6pm-8pm
Where: Sadanand Regency, Opposite Balewadi Stadium, Bangalore Highway (note: this is not the same as Sadanand Restaurant)
Registration and Fees: This seminar is free for all to attend. You must register to attend.

Sun Microsystems
Image via Wikipedia

On ZFS Technologies

KQInfoTech invites everybody interested in storage and systems to join them in a discussion of ZFS from Sun. This is the second talk in the series. The first talk had discussed various features of ZFS and introduced basic of ZFS, while this seminar we will be attempting to take a deeper plunge into ZFS, trying to look at various aspects of ZFS architecture and getting a better understanding of the same.

However, it is not necesssary to have attended the first seminar to be able to attend this one. There will be a quick refresher for those who missed out on the first one, to bring everyone up to speed on the basics of ZFS.

There are no fees for participation. However in view of limited seats, prior registration is crucial.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

CORRECTION: ASIC Verification – guest post by Arati Halbe

Yesterday’s PuneTech post, “ASIC Verification: Trends and Challenges” was actually a guest post by Arati Halbe. Due to an oversight, I forgot to include the “About the Author” section in the post (in fact, I forgot to include any mention of the fact that the post was by Arati.) I apologize for the oversight.

Arati has close to 9 years experience in ASIC front end design and verification. Post silicon validation and FPGA prototyping is her recent area of interest and expertise. Arati has worked with Wipro Technologies and Conexant Systems. Arati did her B.E. from University of Pune and M.Tech from CEDT, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. See her linked-in profile for more details.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Drupal Sprint India – 2-day coding event for Drupal developers

Drupal Sprint India 2009 is a free for all gathering of Drupal enthusiasts from India, who plan to contribute to Drupal development and newbies who want to learn more about Drupal.

Drupal Sprint India will have a non-stop 2 day long sprint where you can contribute by fixing bugs, writing module, documenting upcoming Drupal 7 or helping in translating Drupal to local Indian languages.

Click on the image to see all PuneTech articles about Drupal. Image via Wikipedia

Leading the Drupal documentation sprint is Addison Berry, lead of Drupal documentation project. So, if you are a technical writer or you are interested in documenting the best Open source CMS in the world, this is your chance to work with the real experts and learn a trick or two.

For those who love to code, there will be a large gathering of Drupal programmers around the country who will focus on improving upcoming Drupal 7 release by fixing bugs or migrating modules to Drupal 7. Those of you who love to code for Drupal, this is your chance to contribute and gain karma.

But that is not all. There are a few things in store for the non-geeks who love Drupal for its flexibility and extensive nature. Parallel to sprints, there will be talks and workshops to showcase case studies of successful Drupal implementation as well as Drupal’s capabilities beyond a CMS – including Drupal’s ability to integrate with third party softwares such as a CRM, as well as Drupal’s capability to integrate with third party services such as social networking wesbite. So, if you are planning to use Drupal for your next big venture, this is the event for you. Come and meet the best Drupal brains in the country.

So book your calender for October 30-31 2009 and join the gang at Bhaskaraharya Pratishthan in Pune to be a part of the biggest Drupal event in India ever! And yes, do not forget to register for the event, it will take few minutes only but it will help the organizers in organizing things.

ASIC Verification: Trends and Challenges

(This is a guest post for PuneTech by Arati Halbe, who has close to 9 years experience in ASIC front end design and verification. Post silicon validation and FPGA prototyping is her recent area of interest and expertise. Arati has worked with Wipro Technologies and Conexant Systems. Arati did her B.E. from University of Pune and M.Tech from CEDT, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. See Arati’s linked-in profile for more details.)

As the complexity of Integrated Circuits (specifically ASIC and SoC) increases, and as their sizes keep reducing, the task of testing the chip gets more and more challenging. Engineers need to come up with better and different methodologies to ensure what goes to the factory for manufacturing is actually what they intended to deliver. Verification occurs at various stages in the ASIC development cycle. How much is enough at each stage is a problem that needs to be addressed on a case to case basis. A sound knowledge of various techniques and awareness of capabilities and limitations of each technique goes a long way in making decisions about when, where and what.

The integrated circuit from an Intel 8742, a 8...
Click on the image to see all PuneChips articles on PuneTech. Image via Wikipedia

Keeping this in mind, PuneChips had verification expert Jagdish Doma talk about “ASIC verification: Trends and Challenges” on 20th August 2009. Though impacted by the H1N1 scare we had a small but diverse audience. Jagdish discussed in detail the strengths and limitations of the various techniques, viz: ESL, Formal verification, Dynamic simulation, FPGA prototyping and Emulation.

ESL or Electronic System Level testing is the newest trend. Supporters of ESL claim that it is a highly powerful system level modeling tool. It enables fast software bring-up if combined with an emulation/FPGA prototyping platform. ESL has been used successfully to validate systems for mobile applications where only one peripheral/application is active on the processor bus. ESL does not seem suitable for systems where multiple processes and interfaces are active simultaneously, like for example in a networking system.

Formal verification, a static verification technique which is mainly assertion based, is useful to check control paths. It cannot be used to verify datapaths. Dynamic simulation is a very effective way of verifying functionality of every block in the ASIC including the datapath. Gate level simulations performed after the back annotated placement and routing data is available are used to identify timing related issues or omissions/errors in stating multi-cycle paths.

The need to find hardware bugs as early as possible in the ASIC lifecycle drives the emulation and/or FPGA prototyping effort. Both these techniques enable the testing of scenarios which are generally not possible to test in dynamic functional verification, well before the actual silicon comes back from the fab. Emulation or prototyping also accelerate fast software ramp up and the software team can get a development platform ready well before the actual chip is available. Emulation involves running test cases on hardware accelerated platforms like Palladium from Cadence and Veloce from Mentor. For FPGA prototyping, Single or multiple FPGAs are used to build a PCB system targeted for the testing of the ASIC/SoC. The ASIC code is then fully or partially programmed on the FPGA/s and functionality can thus be tested.

Scenarios with much longer simulation times than what normal functional simulation allows can be run on the emulation platforms. All the internal signals are available for viewing and debug, just like in functional simulation. The FPGA prototype platform does enable longer test time, but the debugging available is limited. The hardware accelerators are costly, and investing in them makes sense if a company has lot of ASIC programs running simultaneously. For companies which have similar chips planned back to back, investing in a home grown FPGA based emulation/prototyping platform makes sense. Another advantage FPGA prototyping is that the RTL goes through a complete synthesis and place and route cycle and testing is done on a circuit which is as close to the real ASIC as possible.

To ensure that a bug free product reaches the customer is a complex activity and poses multiple challenges. Coverage, legacy code, repeatability are issues that need to be tackled. Ensuring that the coverage is at an acceptable level is important. Code coverage is run to find out if all the possibilities of a written code are exercised in a test suite. Simulators from cadence (ius), synopsys(vcs) and mentor (modelsim) have their own code coverage analyzers. Functional coverage means to find out if each feature listed in the specification for an ASIC/SoC is verified. It is essential that the functional specification document has an individual numbered paragraph for each feature so that traceability is easier. Functional coverage is an activity that needs planning, reviews and careful test case designing. Methodologies like eRM (e reuse methodology – Specman based) and OVM (open verification methodology – System verilog based) do assist checking functional coverage, but the inputs provided need careful specification and reviews.

Reviews, not just for coverage, but at every stage in the ASIC cycle are extremely important. One of the challenges encountered while designing an ASIC is that the hardware team interprets a certain behavior from software and the software expects that certain things are taken care of in hardware. It is very important to involve members from design team, verification team, architecture team, software & firmware team for verification review.

It takes a good amount of effort to come up with a verification environment, and it is very common for a team to use what has worked before when schedules are demanding. Legacy environment saves lot of time, but it also handicaps the team. Talking about saving time, efficiency goes a long way in shrinking the schedules. The initial time and effort investment in automation of repetitive tasks save lot of time in future. Use of re-usable methodologies will definitely save time and effort.

Finally, while choosing the verification flow for a certain ASIC, team needs to look at what is available in terms of resources as well as time, understand the end user requirement, and make a decision on which technique to employ at what stage.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta] Pune Event: Need of Networking for IT Professionals

What: Inaugural session of the Pune Chapter of – IT Professionals of Indian Origin, featuring talk on “Need of Networking for IT Professionals” by Khanderao Kand, Director of SOA at Oracle
When: Saturday, 3rd October, 5pm to 6pm
Where: Zinnia conference room, 4th floor, Building B, Symantec Software, near Hotel Mahabaleshwar, Baner Road
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all to attend. No registration required.

Need of Networking for IT Professionals

By Mr. Khanderao Kand, Principal Architect/ Director SOA Architecture at Oracle Corp, USA.

Khanderao Kand, M Tech, IITB, is a Principal Architect / Director SOA Architecture at Oracle Corp, USA. He is involved in the development of Oracle’s SOA Suite. He provides Architectural consultancy to more than fifty projects of Oracle’s next generation Fusion Applications to architect their solutions around SOA and BPM. More than 50 Apps architects and almost two thousand developers work in the project. He has been involved in the development of various industry standards like BPEL 2.0, SCA-Assembly, SCA-BPEL etc. He is socially active and has a national level role in a leading voluntary organization.

About ITpio Pune

ITpio is a worldwide networking association of IT Professionals of Indian Origin. ITPio aims to bring professionals in the fields of hardware and software together for their career and personal development while contributing back to the IT profession and community. ITPio aspires to represent the interests of Indian IT Professionals in the policies and issues related to Information Technology.

For more information, call the coordinators :

Nihar Mehta, +91 98509 96348,
Anurag Agarwal, +91 98812 54401,
Ravindra Sahasrabudhe, +91 98903 81929,
Swarraj Kulkarni, +91 98500 23426,
Ajit Deshpande, +91 98224 48602,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Musings on why Cloud Computing will prevail…

suhas kelkar headshot

Today’s post is a guest post by Suhas Kelkar. Suhas leads the Innovation & Incubation Lab at BMC Software India. Prior to BMC he was the Vice President of Product Management at Digite, an enterprise software company in the field of Project Portfolio Management. See his linked-in profile for details.

In the recent Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2009 special report by Gartner, technologies at the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ include Cloud Computing! (For description of five phases of Hype Cycle look here) This means that Cloud Computing is on the verge of entering the “Trough of Disillusionment” phase. Many technologies have been unable to come out of this dreaded trough where they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Articles such as “Could the cloud lead to an even bigger 9/11” clearly indicate that Gartner’s analysis is right and that cloud computing indeed has reached the peak of hype!

This article has my musings on why cloud computing will eventually come out of this phase and would reshape the way we run business.

Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2009
Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2009

I had an opportunity to attend VmWorld 2009 conference. During the course of this conference, VmWare announced its latest initiative, vCloud. vCloud is essentially using VmWare’s virtualization technology to create an ecosystem of cloud service providers. With this initiative VmWare joins already crowded space of public cloud providers such as Amazon, Rackspace Cloud and Savvis. Out of all the exhibitors at the VmWorld conference, almost everyone was trying to get on the bandwagon of Cloud Computing. And this was not even a Cloud Computing focused conference! The more you look into Cloud Computing the more you feel like it is indeed the next big thing after the internet gold rush of 90s.

All this hype for Cloud Computing feels like a déjà vu. Turn the dial few years ago and the area of Software As A Service (SaaS) went through very similar transition. After SaaS reached the trough of disillusionment skeptics were raising doubts. Many argued that they would never consider putting their competitive data (CRM) in a software system outside of their corporate networks. Salesforce had to fight an uphill battle as it tried to establish its SaaS products. However the value proposition of SaaS, in terms of zero install and pay-as-you-go was too attractive to ignore. Today SaaS is the architecture of choice for many enterprise software products and last time I checked Salesforce is sitting pretty at a massive market cap of 7.13 billion dollars!

Let’s look at the benefits of Cloud Computing,

  • Lower Costs – OPEX not CAPEX: Cloud Computing avoids capital expenditure (CapEx) on hardware, software and services by renting it from a third party provider (such as Amazon). Consumption is usually billed on a utility (resource based like electricity) or subscription (time based, like a monthly cable subscription) basis with little or no upfront cost. You pay as you go and pay for what you need. This seemingly straight forward benefit has deep impact on business models and strategy.
  • Self service and Agility: Provisioning a server used to take days if not weeks. With Amazon you can procure a server on their public cloud in minutes! Users can generally terminate the contract at any time (improving ROI and eliminating financial risks), and the services are often covered by service level agreements (SLAs) with financial penalties.
  • Focus on your business: Cloud computing abstracts away underlying resources (server, network and storage) and management of it so that you can focus on your core business. Win-win for Providers and Consumers.
  • Cloud Infrastructure and services are by default multi-tenant enabled, with multiple customers sharing resources and the costs associated with these. Providers run centralized infrastructure at low cost locations and make use of expertise of providers in terms of utilization and efficiency of infrastructure. Providers benefit with increased efficiency due to economies of scale and are able to provide the same service at lesser costs to happy consumers.

  • Elastic Scalability: Hosting your applications on Cloud Infrastructure enable dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources that can be done at near real time, without having to waste server resources engineered for peak loads. This enables small business to start offering their services on the web with low entry barriers and then scale as and when their load demands are higher.
  • Consider for example that you want to start a small web based business selling toys. Your business plan calls for exponential growth with number of customers ramping from few hundred in the first year to thousands in 2-3 years to million plus in 5-7 years. Ofcourse this plan does not even include wild fluctuations during peak holiday seasons. Until today, planning for this type of scenario involved lot of upfront costs that created huge barriers of entry for start ups. Now with cloud computing and public cloud infrastructure, such small companies can dream of doing exactly what they want to do and provides them with unlimited elasticity!

Similar to SaaS success story, it will be the benefits of the “cloud” that will eventually win over the skeptics due to underlying benefits. Of course an important factor would also be for an eco system to evolve in a timely fashion. One of the reasons why SaaS was successful was the fact that an entire ecosystem made itself available that rendered well to the SaaS Model including Web Standards (SOAP, WSDL, UDDI) and architectures such as AJAX.

Similar to the platform wars of the eighties (followed by browser wars of nineties), Cloud Computing is currently going through a war with each player trying to establish itself as the destination. Some efforts have started to promote interoperability and openness of cloud. Open Cloud Initiative is one such example. However it remains to be seen how the industry as a whole matures and adopts such efforts…

Cloud computing is here to stay and will succeed as a concept eventually. It has the power to establish new business models and change existing processes. More will have to be written about what does it mean for enterprises of tomorrow to manage their businesses in cloud. Do provide feedback via your comments if you would like to hear about it more…

See also: Suhas’ previous PuneTech article: The Changing Landscape of Data Centers.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]