Monthly Archives: February 2011

National Science Day at IUCAA with demos, talks, Q&A, experiments – 28 Feb

What – Open day at IUCAA with science made interesting for kids and adults

IUCAA is the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, and is housed in University of Pune. On 28th Feb, on the occasion of science day, they have organized a full day of various interesting sessions for people to see. For free.

Basically: “IUCAA takes its research to the masses”.

Anyone can visit the campus to attend and participate in popular science lectures, demonstrations, screening of scientific films, Q&A sessions etc. Work at IUCAA is showcased through a poster exhibition. A sky watching session wraps it up.


IUCAA is one of the best institutions in the country for pure science, and includes such greats as Jayant Naralikar, Naresh Dadhich (a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences), Thanu Padmanabhan (Padma Shri winner).

It also includes people like Arvind Gupta who have a genius for taking scientific principles and then applying them to “common” things like toys for children (made from everyday objects found in Indian homes).

A chance to visit an institution of this caliber, and interact with actual scientists engaged in cutting edge research, and with links to the best institutions in the world is something that most people in the world don’t have – and we in Pune are lucky to have that opportunity.


  • Bhaskara 1
    • Virtual Astronomy tools Demonstration
  • Bhaskara 2 & Outside
    • Optics experiments Demonstration
    • Experiments in Radio Astronomy
  • Lobby between Bhaskara 2 & 3
    • Research at IUCAA + Astronomy Posters Presentation
  • Bhaskara 3
    • Talks by Astrophysicists (duration 30 min each)
    • 11:30 p.m. Brahmaand ki Pehli Kiranen – CMBR: Pranjal Trivedi
    • 12:30 p.m. Our Expanding Universe: Varun Sahni
    • 1:15 p.m. Things around us and elsewhere: Gaurav Goswami
  • Chandrasekhar Auditorium
    • Astronomy explained through Videos
    • Science Toys & Experiments demonstrated by school children.
    • 12:00 p.m. IUCAA Observatory Live telecast
    • 2:30 p.m. Astronomy Quiz for Public
    • 3:30 p.m. “Ask a Scientist”
  • Muktangan (Science centre)
    • Spectroscopy Demonstrations and model making
  • Science Park
    • Various Scientific playground models explained by volunteers.
    • 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sky Watching (passes necessary)
  • Chandrasekhar Auditorium
    • 6:00 p.m. Public Lecture: Nobel Prize in Physics – 2010 (A N Ramaprakash)

This event is free and open for anybody to attend.

Event Report: Startup Saturday Pune on Technology in Education

(This report of the Feb 2011 Startup Saturday Pune, by Vishwa Vivek Garg, first appeared on eventNU, and is republished here with permission)

For the Feb 2011 Startup Saturday Pune on Technology in Education, we got speakers from IndicThreads, Millenium School/ myEshala, NextLeap, Synthesis Solutions & kPoint.

IndicThreads – Harshad Oak

It started with Harshad Oak of IndicThreads.

IndicThreads organizes tech conferences such as java, cloud computing, mobile computing, etc. As of now it is only within Pune but in long run they want to spread all across India. These conferences are paid and the overall response is good. Harshad used to work for Cognizant before he started (along with his wife) IndicThreads. He is basically a Java guy and got some renowned certifications. He also authored a Java book. While sharing his entrepreneurial journey, he mentioned that writing a book on Java helped him a lot starting his venture.

So do something & participate in various things so that people start recognizing you.

Millenium School – Nikhil Karkare

2nd presentation was from Nikhil Karkare of Millenium School. He talked about the concept of ‘no school bags’ for children of Millenium School. It is a day boarding, state board school where kid gets almost everything within the school campus. Kids don’t take any school bags to school. They give books/ copies within the school and kids practice it.

He mentioned that since the concept of no school bag was new, initially they faced some difficulty convincing the crowd.

A related query arised, “how do parents know what their kids are doing in the school?”. They daily send sheets of whatever their kids have done during the day.

He also talked about their learning tool called myEshala where they provide video CD to parents for the syllabus and child can practice it at home as well.

NextLeap – Suruchi Wagh

3rd presentation was from Suruchi Wagh of NextLeap.

NextLeap is a recommendation engine for students seeking admission in American universities. They work on freemium model where they suggest 3 universities free of cost. They have 2 other accounts called economy & advanced where they suggest more universities and support on phone as well.

They have 3 guys on advisory board and Alok Kejriwal of Games2Win/ Mobile2Win/ Contest2Win is one of them.

Synthesis Solutions – Swapnil Patil

4th presentation was from Swapnil Patil of Synthesis Solutions.

Swapnil talked about his new venture in education field called

kPoint – Avijit

Last presentation was from Avijit of kPoint.

kPoint is a product of GSLab (a soft. dev. comp.). It is a cloud-based solution for multimedia learning and sharing in fast moving organizations. kPoint enables easy capture of expert knowledge into multimedia kapsules, which provide searchable video and flexible navigation of content for informal learning. kPoint effectively overcomes the barrier for creating and sharing content.

With that we came to an end of the event and then participants networked with each other over cold-drink and snacks. It was a successful event with around 80-90 participants.

Next meet will focus on how to take your idea/ product into the market.

About the Author – Vishwa Vivek Garg

Vishwa has 11 yrs. of rich web development experience in which he has worked at various levels from software engineer to project manager. He has worked with startups as well as well-established software companies. He loves the startup culture and tries to help the ecosystem. He has managed startup meets in Pune, India for more than a year through Startup Saturday Pune Chapter.

Vishwa co-founded as a hobby project and it helps him understand various aspects of running a business. He is very hopeful that this will help him in his journey towards entrepreneurship.

He consults with startups on development and business strategy.

Event Report: TechWeekend Pune 7 – Mobile Application Development

TechWeekend Pune 7, on Mobile Application Development was held on Saturday, 19th Feb. These are the live-tweets, collected here for your benefit. Remember, they are live-tweets that were being typed while the event was happening, so they’re not necessarily as coherent and as well-organized as a regular article.

Windows Phone 7 by Mayur Tendulkar

The first talk was by Mayur Tendulkar talking about Windows Phone 7

  • This talk is a basic overview of Windows Phone 7. Important now, because Nokia has now thrown its weight behind it.
  • “If windows is not behaving well, you format your drive and start again. MSFT did same with its Mobile OS. Win Phone 7 is completely new”
  • Mobile phone world suffers from large number of devices of different resolutions that behave differently. This is not true of Win Mobile 7. Windows Phone 7 insists on a standardized hardware & screen configuration. So your Win Phone 7 will always look and behave the same.
    • WinPhone7 screen config: 480×800 or 320×480. No other sizes allowed. S-LCD/AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. 4-point multi-touch
    • WinPhone7 will always have these sensors: A-GPS, proximity sensor, accelerometer, compass, light.
    • All WinPhone7 devices must have these three buttons: Start, Back, Search. (As usual, to shutdown, you press Start 🙂
  • App Development for WinPhone7: regular apps using Silverlight, and game apps using XNA.
    • “Silverlight is just like Flash”. Modern app UI framework. Apparently has 500,000 developers spanning windows, web (and now mobile)
    • Visit the Tata Nano site or the Hard Rock Cafe New York site to see some cool uses of Silverlight
    • The XNA framework for game development is mature and widely accepted – because it was in XBox 360, Windows and Zune.
  • WinPhone7 developers get all the goodness of Visual Studio for developing mobile apps with Visual Studio 2010 Express for WP.
  • Other developer tools: Silverlight Dev Kit. XNA Game Studio 4.0. Expression Blend 4.0. Also VB for WinPhone7.
  • All these development tools for WinPhone7 are free.

This was followed by a walk through of building a WinPhone7 app using Visual Studio 2010 and Silverlight.

Some interesting audience Q&A:

  • Q: What languages are supported for WinPhone7 development? A: At this point, only Visual Basic and C#
  • Q: Does WinPhone7 support multi-tasking. A: No. Some standard system services can run in the background; but apps don’t multitask.

Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development by Rohit Ghatol

Next up: Rohit Ghatol talking about cross-platform mobile app development using phonegap, titanium etc.

  • Two ways of developing cross-platform apps. 1. Develop html5 apps for webkit. 2. Use a translator that translates your app to native code.
  • For now, all major mobile platforms have a webkit based browser (except WinPhone7). So writing an app targeting webkit is “cross-platform”
  • Q: Will a webkit based app work with WinPhone7? A: No. But Mango release of WinPhone7 will support html5, so you should be close.
  • Translating common codebase to different native apps – Titanium. Write in JavaScript, and translate to Native.
  • PhoneGap = HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript + special ability to make calls to access phone sensors etc.
    • Note: HTML5/CSS3 development for mobile apps works because all phone browsers are much more advanced on this issue than desktop browsers
    • Features supported by phonegap: accelerometer, camera, compass, contacts, file io, geolocation, audio recording, sound, vibration, storage. Note: not all these features are supported on all mobile phone platforms
    • PhoneGap prerequisites: Need to be a html/javascript expert. Also, it doesn’t help you with UI, you need to be able to develop that
    • So with PhoneGap app development, you’ll probably be doing UIs by using JQueryUI or something like that.
    • Note: PhoneGap ultimately creates a native app that users install. Not just a website that they visit in the browser.
  • At this point, Rohit, showed actual PhoneGap code for a mobile app – to write an app that shows a google map of my current location.
  • Big challenge of PhoneGap is that you need to bring your own UI development framework. This is an advantage also! – PhoneGap allows you to have same UI framework for website as well as your mobile app.
  • Rohit’s suggestions for UI framework – 1. GWT 2. jQueryMobile
  • With Titanium, you write apps in Javascript. This is interpreted by MozillaRhino on Android, and by Webkit JavascriptCore on iOS
    • You have two different directories for images – one for Android, & one for iPhone, because they handle images differently.
    • iPhone requires just one size of images. Android allows different images for different screen sizes/resolutions/orientations.
    • Titanium problem – layout is absolute. For people used to the great layout capabilities of Android, this is a big step down
    • Titanium uses native UI (iPhone and Android), where are PhoneGap uses non-native (html/css) UI. Former gives better experience…
  • PhoneGap/Titanium both use Javascript Interpretation, so both can’t do multi-threaded apps
  • Building your own webkit based cross-platform framework makes sense if you want to overcome limitations of phonegap/titanium.
  • This won’t be as clean as phonegap/titanium, but might be good for your specific case. Steal phonegap/titanium code if required!
  • Comparison of PhoneGap vs Titanium. Titanium more proprietary, limited UI, …
    html5/css3/javascript is the future; but not there yet. Until then, write to webkit specs…

Android Performance Tuning by Anand Hariharan

Next speaker was Anand Hariharan talking about Android Performance tuning.

  • For app performance: first focus on what the user wants, don’t just improve performance for the sake of improving performance. Optimize only after measuring performance, and having specific performance goals. A lot of performance tuning, is really about managing user perception. When doing something that will take time, keep user engaged.
  • Don’t optimize everything for performance – you don’t have the time. Focus on the most important user visible features and fix those. In mobile world – reduce features and use the time saved on fixing performance.
  • Manage user perception better: e.g. Apple’s use of loading a bitmap image of app at beginning to give impression that app has loaded. At app startup time, load a bitmap that looks like your app without the latest data. Gives impression that app load is fast.
  • Performance tips: All platforms have a “recommended best practices” doc. Read that – many developers dont 🙂 e.g. Android best practice: for tasks that take time, use a background service (not an activity).
  • Anand talking about how to avoid an “Application Not Responding” (ANR) dialog for your app
    • An android app is single-threaded. So don’t do io (network or disk) synchronously. Use an async mechanism.
  • Keep activities small. Don’t overload activities. Use different activities to do different things.
  • Use the minimum number of views. Do not use a deeply nested view hierarchy. Your view hierarchy shouldn’t be more than 3 levels deep. If you’re views are getting complicated, consider writing custom views.
  • Track memory allocations. Garbage collection happening during user activity causes slowdowns.
  • Close your cursors. Otherwise garbage collector cannot reclaim memory. Then you get GC cycles, and slowdowns.
  • use onRetainNonConfigurationInstance() to retain large amounts of data between device orientation changes (landscape to portrait)
  • Use SoftReferences to cache data so that the garbage collector can reclaim the memory when required.
  • Avoid database writes as far as possible. Writes take 5ms to 200ms. And full SD card has slower writes.
  • Avoid using data from mutiple tables in a single list (AdapterView). First copy data from multiple tables to a single table and show that. e.g. in Email app, subject and body came from different tables. This really slowed down the inbox view (which shows first line of body).
  • Tools to help with android app optimization: Fix your views using: hierarchyviewer, layoutopt. Check flow & times using: traceview. Use zipalign to optimize your apk (improves app load time).
  • Above all, you must understand what you’re optimizing and why. Measure, measure, measure.

TechWeekend7 (#tw7): Mobile Application Development – 19 Feb

TechWeekend 7 (#tw7) will focus on Mobile Application Development, and we have these talks lined up:

  • Application Development for Windows Phone 7 & Marketplace – by Mayur Tendulkar. With Nokia throwing all its weight behind Windows Phone 7 for all its smartphones, Windows Phone 7 has suddenly become a much more important platform than it was before. Get an overview of what Windows Phone 7 is in this talk. Mayur works on various mobile and location aware technologies at Zevenseas India. Click here for Mayur’s full background
  • Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development – by Rohit Ghatol. With the smartphone market becoming increasingly fragmented, frameworks like PhoneGap and Titanium are becoming popular as means of writing an app just once and deploying it across different mobile platforms. Rohit will talk about his experiences with using PhoneGap/Titanium, and will also touch upon how you could create your own cross-platform framework. Rohit is an associated architect for QuickOffice – the mobile office software suite. Click here for Rohit’s full background
  • Performance Tuning for Android Applications – by Anand Hariharan. Performance is a very critical factor for success of a mobile app, since cellphones are still under-powered as compared to the desktops. This talk will cover Java/Android performance tips, best practices; benchmarking and tracing tools, and what areas to look at in your app for improving performance. Anand is Director of Engineering–Product Development at the India office of Android-based tablet software maker TapNTap. Click here for Anand’s full background
  • Using HTML5/CSS3 for Mobile App development – Arnab Chakraborty. HTML5 is fast becoming an alternative to native apps for mobile app development. This talk will cover the specific features of HTML5 and of CSS3 that make it appropriate for development of mobile apps. Arnab is a senior developer at Thoughtworks. Click here for Arnab’s full profile

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

About Techweekend

TechWeekend Pune is a volunteer run activity. TechWeekend talks are held on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10am to 2pm at Sumant Moolgaonkar Auditorium, Ground Floor, ICC Trade Center, SB Road. Each TechWeekend event features 3 or 4 talks on advanced technical topics. These events are free for all to attend. See PuneTech articles about past techweekends to get an idea of the events.

Join the techweekend mailing list to keep in touch with the latest TechWeekend activities.

About the Sponsor – Microsoft

Many thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring the venue for Techweekend. Microsoft wants to get more closely involved with the tech community in Pune, and particularly the open source enthusiasts – with the intention of making everybody aware that their cloud technologies (like Azure) actually play well with open source, and that you can deploy your php applications, your drupal/joomla installs on Azure.


This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

Profile: Harshad Oak – Conferences, Tech Portals, and bringing technology to NGOs

(In this article, Nina Mukherji profiles Harshad Oak, who is very active in the tech community in Pune, who has done many things rather different from what most software technologists usually do, and who has started a number of interesting initiatives. Specifically, we would like to draw our readers’ attention to the TechNoProfits initiative, and his work with the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, which, we hope, at least some of our readers will get involved with.)

Harshad Oak has always chosen the road less travelled. After completing Computer Management in 2001 he worked for IT firms like I-flex & Cognizant for about two years. But he’d always felt a strong urge to venture out and do something on his own. He wrote tech based articles for many newspapers and magazines and even managed to get a number of certifications under his belt.

Harshad then decided to quit his job and set up Rightrix Solutions, a software development firm. By this time, he had also authored a few books on Java and Oracle. This gave him additional credibility and helped him land some good projects for his newly set up firm.

He was invited to participate and speak at various technology conferences abroad. This made him realize the criticality of having such forums in India – such independent conferences were non-existent till then. So with zero experience in the field, he launched the first Annual IndicThreads Conference on Java in 2006. After that they have had many more conferences in the different areas like Mobile Application Development, Upcoming Technology & Software Quality.

Now Rightrix does IT research and advisory services, software outsourcing services, technology portal (IndicThreads), 4 different and technology conferences every year.

Another recent initiative on his part has been starting TechnoProfits – a non-profit entity dedicated to connecting software professionals and NGOs. TechnoProfits enables volunteers to make a positive contribution to society and also come out feeling enriched from the experience. Harshad believes that technology today can connect and enhance lives like never before. “However, most non-profit organisations use no technology beyond making calls from a cell phone. The overwhelming majority of organizations run on passion & dedication but no technology” says Harshad. Please register as a volunteer.

Being of an analytical and rational mind, Harshad abhors superstitious and credulous behaviour. That a ring or pendant will ensure success or modifying their homes so that a bathroom faces X direction will end marital disputes were beliefs that left Harshad feeling frustrated and irritated. “A bathroom door can affect my health only if I accidentally bang into it” he jokes. But this was a serious matter to him and he decided to do something about it.

He started working with Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANiS) a 20 year old organisation. Though they have done remarkable work in Maharashtra towards eradicating blind faith and promoting scientific temperament amongst the youth, Harshad believes that technology awareness is very low. “At the recent ANiS 20 year anniversary event, more than a thousand people from all over Maharashtra turned up, but I probably was the only one using the web and writing about the event on my smartphone. I have been pushing for some kind of an Internet awareness workshop so that the ANiS team can not only leverage the net to reach more people but also be able to convey it’s point of view swiftly and accurately” says Harshad

In order to address this need, TechnoProfits is conducting an Internet Awareness Workshop for ANiS this Saturday the 19th of February (1-5 pm). The topics for the workshop include Internet Basics, Search, Email, Chat, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Using Indian languages Online, and How to make best use of the Internet for social work. Harshad told me: “While the workshop is planned for ANiS, anyone else wishing to use this learning for social good is most welcome”

(You can get in touch with Harshad by emailing harshad aT rightrix doT com)

InEnCy – The Energy Efficiency Business Plan Contest

IndiaCo Advisors, a Pune-based investment management firm has announced InEnCy, a business plan competition focusing on energy efficiency.

Here is the pitch:

Energy efficiency, a prime factor in India’s economic growth and sustenance, requires innovative ideas converging into practice. For the purpose of promoting Energy Efficiency ideas into viable business, IndiaCo Advisors Pvt. Ltd. is proud to present InEnCy: The Business Plan Competition.

InEnCy is a first of its kind business plan competition in India, launched by IndiaCo in January 2011. It aims at identifying potential relevant innovations that could lead to viable businesses with technological and or scientific breakthroughs to improve or revolutionize Energy Efficiency. With this focus InEnCy has been able to create a support network of industry experts, VCs & investors operating in Energy Efficiency space. The InEnCy team has made a confidant foray into the competitive field of mentoring and Guidance and plans on making InEnCy Business plan competition an annual event to be held in May each year.

Laser focused on the energy efficiency sector, this competition would give a platform to budding entrepreneurs to present their innovative business plans. Mentored by a panel of industry experts, these entrepreneurs will have the further opportunity to shape and fine tune their concepts and hence turn them into successful and thriving businesses.

One winner will be proclaimed, but many more ideas to change the world will get exposure through the competition process. At the Grand Finale on May 14th InEnCy will be showcasing the final 10 business plans/ideas; best three of which will receive exciting awards!

Fast facts:

  • Shortlisted candidates will be assigned mentors from a panel of experts.
  • Online mentoring is available if required
  • Structured and transparent mentoring process.
  • Prizes worth Rs. 5,00,000.
  • A chance to pitch for Investments from IndiaCo Energy Efficiency Fund.
  • Network access to investors, mentors and potential partners.
  • Access to technology incubators.

The last date for registering is 27th Feb, 2011. Check out the InEnCy website and get started.

Pune’s Webonise launches ‘AppBazar’ – Android Marketplace and Apps Contest for India

Webonise Lab, a Pune-based startup, is creating waves in the mobile apps space. Their mobile development arm Mobinise is set to launch an India specific mobile app store for Android phone users. This Android app store called “AppBazar” will have a strong ‘Indian’ flavour – right from Bollywood Masala apps to cricket and even religious apps. And to get the process of “Indian” Android Apps kickstarted, they’ve announced an Indian Android Developer Contest – where prizes worth Rs. 1.5 lakhs are up for grabs in 10 different categories.

Mobinise sees great opportunity in developing India specific content and intends to give the users a unique mobile experience and in different vernaculars too! AppBazar is expected to hit the market by the first week of April and they plan to target tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

The company’s logic behind the India centric focus – it believes that though Indians have a penchant for anything Western, they love to tinge it with – and in fact refuse to give up – their own Desi tastes and flavours. The Tandoori Pizza and Aloo Tikki Burger are just a few examples of products that have been fine-tuned for the Indian market. Hence the rationale to ‘Indianize’ a product that has become an integral part of our daily lives – our mobile devices.

To to jumpstart the process of creating Indianized apps for AppBazar, Mobinise has started the Indian Android Developer Contest(IADC) and is inviting developers to build apps around android for the Indian user. The developer contest is targeted at students, platform enthusiasts, freelancers, and the Android application development community.

We asked Shardul Mohite, CEO of Webonise, about the response to the contest so far and he said:

“The response we’ve got is very positive. We even went to Hyderabad to meet Google and get permission to run the contest. They were supportive and excited as well. The most unexpected response we got was when CNBC TechGuru showed interest in promoting the contest actively, and they’re coming to meet us next week.”

The registration for the contest is already open, and individuals or teams interested can start registering now. From 26th Feb, contestants can start uploading their apps, and the contest will remain open until March 26, 2010. Apps shortlisted for the second round (voting) will be announced on 1st April, and the final prize winners will be announced on 22th April. Prizes are: Rs. 25000 for the grand prize winner, Rs. 15000 for the best Indian app, Rs. 10000 for the best designed app, and a Rs. 10000 prize for the best app in each of 10 categories. The different categories include entertainment (or Masala Apps), Games, Travel, Lifestyle and Health related applications. Apart from this there are also some interesting non-cash rewards.

The only eligibility criteria that they set is for the application to be Indian in nature claiming that the ‘Indian-ness’ of the app is what matters most.

There would be two rounds of judging and parameters like design, usability, innovative idea, popularity (for instance likes on Facebook, votes on the contest site) and of course the votes of jury members will together decide the winners of the contest.

Check out the rules, the full list of categories, and the about page of the contest for more information.

Event Report – CloudCamp Pune

This report of the CloudCamp that was held in Pune last weekend, is a guest post by Chirag Jog, CTO of Clogeny Technologies

CloudCamp is an un-conference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. CloudCamp, encourages end users, IT professionals and vendors to participate and share their thoughts in several open discussions. Cloudcamp is organized in cities across the world .

CloudCamp Pune was held on 5th Feb 2011, hosted at Persistent Systems. The chief organizers were Shreekanth Joshi, Persistent Systems and Larry Carvalho, RobustCloud. The event was sponsored by Clogeny (only local/Pune-based sponsor), Netmagic, Trillion IT solutions, Microsoft Azure, Hexagrid and Tropo. NASSCOM was the in-kind sponsor.

The camp drew around 400+ registrations and around 150+ folks showed up for the conference making it the 3rd largest camp after Brazil and London. Larry Carvalho, was the coordinator on-stage.

Lightening Talks

As it typical of any event held in Pune, the crowd trickled till around 1045am and the event kicked off officially at 11am. Larry spoke first about Cloudcamp in general followed by which we had a bunch of lightning talks by all the sponsors. Persistent first spoke about the potential challenges customers will face while they try to migrate to the cloud. Trillion Tech followed talking more about the work Trillion Tech does than Cloud Computing. Interestingly they have deployed their private cloud offering in the US Federal Department of Treasury. Microsoft gave their regular Azure pitch where now folks can deploy non-.NET apps as well (like PHP/Python or Java based apps). Microsoft made quote: “SQL Azure is the only Relational DB in the cloud” – which is highly debatable. Clogeny, then gave their lightning talk about products they are working on namely building hybrid clouds and automated deployment platforms. Finally, Netmagic spoke about their Cloud offering. They aim to solve the compute problems of all India. Companies like Tata, Manipal Univ and India Infoline are some of the big customers the recently funded Netmagic have on their roster.

Suhas Kelkar, BMC representing NASSCOM gave a nice lightning talk about the UID project. One of the aims of the UID project is to provide “Identity as a Service”. Anyone around the world should be able to identify an Indian based on biometrics in less-than-2-seconds using a massive data de-duplication engine.

Larry gave 20:20 talk i.e. 20 slides in 20 secs per slide about general Cloud Computing concepts. Any Cloud solutions provided should be “OSSM” (pronounced awesome) – On demand, Self-Serviced and Measured. He explained basic Cloud Computing terms like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS

Cloud Computing Unpanel

Larry mentioned that he had heard complaints in the past that Indian Cloudcamps are less interactive and audience participation is really low. He tackled this problem very well with an un-panel discussion. Here is how it happened. He asked folks who were cloud experts to raise their hands. Around 15 or so raised their hands. He got all of them to come down to the main stage. After that, he started asking audience to “ask questions to these cloud experts.” He took down around
15-20 questions on white sheets of papers from the audience.

The “cloud experts” then answered all these questions. Some of the questions asked were about security concerns in the cloud, vendor lock-in, developer’s role, how to choose the right solution and so on. This was a fun session nicely organized by Larry ensuring audience participation.

Some of the questions asked and their answers:

  1. Security in the cloud: Security in the cloud is no different than securing your data centre. Ensure your network and host level firewalls are locked down and all communication is secure.
  2. Vendor lock-in: Everyone talks about the marriage but no one talks about the divorce i.e. moving away from a vendor. Design your applications properly so that migration from one vendor to another vendor is easy. One of the “cloud experts” mentioned how by designing a proper hibernate layer, they were able to move their Java application from Google App Engine to Amazon’s EC2 in a day. Design is the key.
  3. Application development for/in the cloud: Experts spoke about how quickly they could develop massively scalable applications using’s platform-as-a-service.
  4. Making the right choices: Experts spoke about evaluating different offerings in terms of features and cost. Do a small POC before doing committing to a any vendor.
  5. Storage/Databases in the cloud: There are all sorts of databases (relational and non-relational i.e NoSQL ) available in the cloud which provide redundancy and consistency. e.g. Amazon’s S3, RDS, SQL Azure, MongoDB and so on.
  6. Will Network/System administrators lose their jobs? This was the question of the day raised by a lot. The answer is that your datacenter will become virtual but it will still exist and need regular maintenance. Platform-as-a-service solutions don’t provide a silver bullet that you can junk all your hardware capacity for that. You will need IaaS like Amazon EC2, Netmagic and that needs maintenance regularly.

Breakout Sessions

Post lunch, there were quite a few breakout sessions based on the audience questions asked before lunch. Larry himself conducted a session on Security in the Cloud. Janakiram MSV from Amazon, conducted a session on Migrating Applications to the Cloud. I attended Janakiram’s session. He spoke about his experiences in evaluating and then migration applications to the Cloud.

Some takeaways from Janakiram’s session:

  • Capex can go down significantly, but Opex needs to be tempered by revenue.
  • Steps to migrate into the cloud:
    • Do a cloud vendor assessment: Choose which vendor suits your current and future needs.
    • Do a simple Proof of Concept.
    • Migrate the data: Choose which part of the data (images, binary blobs etc) can use NoSQL databases and which parts are relational and need a Relational Database application.
    • Migrate the application: Either “forklift” the entire application and run it as-in the cloud or use a hybrid approach.
    • In the hybrid approach, some of your application’s context remains local while some is in the cloud and they communicate via shared queues or similar such ways.
  • Use Cloud vendor’s value added services besides compute and storage: eg. Leverage EC2’s queuing solution i.e Simple Queue Service instead of implementing your own.

  • Tweak as per the need: After running the application for a while in the cloud, keep tweaking your application for optimal use for resources.

I attended Netmagic’s demo. Netmagic gave a demo of their current cloud offering which is currently in beta. Similar to other popular cloud vendors, Netmagic lets you create Windows/Linux servers on the fly, connect them to remote storage, provides network level firewalls and provides proprietary software load-balancers. The UI was clean and easy to understand. Their SLA guarantees an uptime of 99.993%. Currrently, their solution looks very robust especially in the Indian market and there will offer a complete offering soon with APIs and connectors.

We (Kalpak Shah and myself) personally held a breakout session for developers and their role in the cloud. The main questions asked by developers were around “What and how do I develop in the cloud?”

The answers:

Application development fundamentally remains the same for the developer. You write code in Java, Python, .NET or any of your favorite languages. What changes is the environment in which is deployed and its use cases. e.g. If you want to host your Java Web application, instead of buying space from a hosting solution provider, deploy it directly into Google AppEngine (GAE). GAE will host it for you and scale up/down as per load. e.g. If you want to use scalable storage, your application will need to use a NoSQL storage solution like Amazon’s S3. The developer’s role here is to understand how to use S3’s APIs. Hence the developer would need to design and develop his application leveraging these “cloud” technologies.

Furthermore, the developer also would need to think “cloud” and design with multi-tenancy (a software application is designed to logically partition its data and configuration, and each client sees a custom version of that application) in mind for his Software-as-a-service offering. eg. Gmail or Facebook.


Larry closed the session by thanking the sponsors and participants. There was feedback about what all can be improved in the future. Key suggestions were: having talks about cloud basics in the beginning, having good net connectivity (for demos), and a post conference beer party (to ensure folks stick till the end).

All in all, CloudCamp is definitely a great un-conference if you want to learn about cloud, if you are an expert and what to share your experiences and knowledge, and if you have products to showcase.

The next CloudCamp in India is in Delhi (12th Feb) and Chennai (19th Feb).

About the Author – Chirag Jog

Chirag Jog is the CTO at Clogeny Technologies where they work on innovative ideas across the cloud computing stack. He, along with the CEO drives the overall strategy of the company. He is passionate about everything “cloud” and around it. He is an ex-PICTian.

Pune Design Festival – 6 days of design events in Pune 10-15 Feb

From 10th to 15th Feb, Pune will play host to a host of design events across the city, organized as a part of the Pune Design Festival. To quote the website:

Design has become the epicentre of many business success stories in India. The value of design stretches across all industries and sectors – from manufacturing to services. Recognizing this integral role of Design for the competitiveness of your businesses and betterment of our society we organize such events annually. This year’s edition brings you rich and diversified events to help us learn from each other and contribute to the betterment of the Industry.

We are pleased to bring to you the 5th Pune Design Festival from 10-15th February 2011 at various locations across the city, being organised along with MCCIA.

There are a large number of events being held – see the website for the full list. Some of them are free events, some have nominal charges and some have substantial fees. Note: a number of these festivals are geared towards automobile design and industrial design, so don’t go there expecting software/graphic design…

The free and nominal fee events have been listed in the PuneTech Calendar. For the others you’ll need to check the details on the Pune Design Festival website

Event Report: “Amplify Mobility” event on Mobile Tech at Bharati Vidyapeeth

This Saturday, there was a day-long event on mobile technology organized by Amplify Mindware, a group of educational institutions housed at Bharati Vidyapeeth. This is a live-blog of three of the talks at the event; (which is unfortunately being posted with a 2-day delay because my internet connection did not work at the venue.) There were other talks which haven’t been captured either because I missed the talk (as I had to leave early), or it wasn’t interesting enough, or they were student presentations that were appropriate for the audience but not for this blog (and my own presentation on “Mobile Technology Trends” that I couldn’t blog).

Anyway, here are my notes on 3 of the talks:

Enhance Education’s talk about MyOpenCampus portal and the e-Pad tablet

Lots of people have lots of ideas on how to improve education. And most of them will not work because that’s not what the students want. Amit Sharma of Enhance Education claims that the right approach is to ask the students what they want. And his research indicates that students just want answers to their questions without having to ask the question in highly public forums.

Enhance Education’s MyOpenCampus product tries to fill this requirement. It is an educational social network and content portal that provides content specifically for your degree, your discipline, your year. Basically it is a general educational social network, but it has groups for the specific classes your taking, information about your curriculum, notes, and other study material, and groups of your classmates for interaction. The difference between a general repository of such information from the internet and this repository is that this is found and uploaded by your teacher or fellow-students and validated by the teacher. This is further supported by question & answer forums and discussion forums.

All of this is delivered to the students via the e-pad, a 7-inch resistive touchscreen Android tablet, which is smaller than a book, is always on, is always connected to the internet, and is cheap. It’s portable, can be used for accessing all the data from MyOpenCampus, all the documents, the study material, audio/video lectures, and it can also be used as an entertainment device. It will cost about Rs. 6000, and the first batch will go to Amplify Mindware students in June 2011.

Binoy Samuel from Digital Spice:

Media companies, design companies, publishing companies, gaming companies are all moving to mobile platforms from their usual medium. This is a huge market opportunity.

He gave a few examples of apps that have come through this route. One of the interesting example was of a book called “Bio-replenishment” on Bone Health, which has lots of information about the health of your bones, and what causes problems, and how it effects you. The book was expensive, at $50, and still not compelling enough for readers. They converted it to an iPad app with a lot of 3-D animations to explain the issues, and that is a much better format for this material.

In this space, there are opportunities in healthcare, animation, wildlife, e-Publishing, e-Learning, and retail design.

Anthony Hsiao from Sapna Solutions:

On why becoming a mobile developer is cool:

  • Because it is new and exciting and unknown
  • Because it is a completely new way to try and benefit the bottom of the pyramid
  • Because you can develop things and immediately try them on yourself
  • Because you can use maths and science along with computer science when developing for mobiles (e.g. accelerometer, gps, etc.)
  • Because you want to build things for users. Real users. Non-techies. Kids. And cats.

Mobile development is fast, always moving, high pressure. It’s a lot of hard work. It is not for everyone. Choose wisely.

What will be big in mobile:

  • Money transfer
  • Location based services
  • Mobile search
  • Mobile browsing
  • Mobile health monitoring
  • Mobile payment
  • Near field communication services
  • Mobile advertising
  • Mobile instant messaging
  • Mobile music

Anuj Tandon from Rolocule Games:

Quote: “I was a techie first. Then Infosys made me a donkey. Then I quit to join Rolocule and became a techie again”

Mobile Gaming is a hot area.

In Asia, mobile gaming industry will grown at 73% CAGR.

The biggest entertainment launch this year was not a movie, it was a mobile game. Consumers are willing to pay for quality mobile games ($9.99 per game). There is already good M&A activity in amongst mobile games development companies since 3 years of the launch of the Apple AppStore. e.g. Ngmoco acquired by DeNA, Tapolous acquired by Disney. Freeverse acquired by NGmoco. VCs have already made investments of over $100 in iPhone gaming related companies.

India, gaming industry is worth $7.9B in 2009 and will grow to $32B by 2014. Globally, gaming industry will grow 18%, but in India it will grow 32%.