Monthly Archives: May 2011

TiE Pune My Story session with Mohit Dubey CEO/Founder of CarWale – 3 June

TiE Pune presents a “My Story” session with Mohit Dubey, CEO and Founder of CarWale on 3 June, 6pm to 8pm, at MCCIA Trade Towers, Pune. Carwale is one of the few dotcom and “ecommerce” success stories by and Indian company for Indian customers – and hence should be a must for anyone in India interested in web technologies.

CarWale is a platform where car buyers and owners can research, buy, sell and come together to discuss and talk about their cars. CarWale was founded in 2005, and by 2010 it had become India’s single largest source of car sales.

After completion of his MBA and spending the first three years of his career in a start-up, Mohit took the entrepreneurial plunge with an initiative aimed at building the concept of telemedicine in remote villages. Post that, he ventured into delivering customized software. In 2005, while creating software for a car dealership, Mohit saw the frictions in car buying and founded

Today, CarWale is South Asia’s leading car portal and acknowledged as the market leader in its space. Backed by India’s leading early stage venture capital firm Seedfund and top tier US venture fund Sierra Ventures, and with over 2.4 million visits a month, the portal is way ahead of its nearest rival launched by Times of India. It has influenced approximately $3 billion of car transactions in India and has won many prestigious awards including the Red Herring Asia Top 100, BusinessWeek’s Top 25 young entrepreneurs in Asia and PCWorld Web Award for best automotive website. offers a complete consumer-focused service that includes content and tools for exhaustive research, pricing and marketplace information. As consumers research and make purchase decisions, the portal connects them with automotive manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, allowing them to make the best decisions for their automotive purchases. CarWale also offers more than 400,000 pages of car research, tips-advices, road-tests etc.

It has also what could be India’s first used car and new car price guide. It provides the on-road price of almost all cars being sold in 300+ Indian cities. It also serves 8,000 used car value checks every day. The ‘Recommend Me A Car’ feature is used by more than one thousand new car buyers every day. From 500 used car listings in Oct’ 05, the portal today has around 15,000 listings. CarWale offers more than 400,000 pages of car research, tips-advices, road-tests etc.

About TiE Pune My Story Sessions!

“My Story – Inspiring Journey of an Entrepreneur”

This program is created to celebrate entrepreneurship and bring stories from successful entrepreneurs in their own words. The invited speakers will share their entrepreneurial journeys and talk about lessons learned, mistakes they wish they avoided, and key decisions that helped make their venture successful.

Fees and Registration

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

Event Report: GeekNight with Ola Bini – JRuby for the win

(This is a report of the GeekNight with Ola Bini written by Sandeep Mukhopadhyay)

ThoughtWorks Pune had invited all developers to their GeekNight held on May 25, 2011. GeekNight is a series of talks about cutting edge technology, where you also get to meet like minded geeks. This GeekNight featured a talk “JRuby for the win” by JRuby Core Developer Ola Bini.

Ola Bini is a core JRuby developer and is the author of the book “Practical JRuby on Rails”. He works for ThoughtWorks in Chicago. Ola’s wide technical experience ranges from Java, Ruby and LISP to several open source projects. He likes implementing languages, writing regular expression engines, YAML parsers, blogging, and other similar things that exist at the cutting edge of computer science.

This is a first hand report by Sandeep Mukhopadhyay:

The GeekNight Event kicked off officially with Ola Bini giving an overview of JRuby. JRuby is a 100% Java implementation of the Ruby programming language. It is Ruby for the JVM. A number of companies use JRuby, including Thoughtworks, as it is most compatible version of Ruby as coded in Java.

Ola also displayed a sample Application which showcased integration of Java APIs with JRuby. Using a combination of Explicit Extension API and OO internals in JRuby, integration bridges can be built with Legacy systems. Ola showed how to use Java and Ruby interchangeably in same program, and this feature was quite popular among those present.

Understandably, JRuby seems to be popular among many developers as it gives a free hand to use the best possible features of Java and Ruby in same ecosystem. Ola also discussed integration with different language like Erlang and Clojure just by adding jars into classpath and also talked about build tools for JRuby i.e. (Ant+Rake).

Just like in other technology events, the technical crowd soon started discussing issues like threading, Unicode, Performance, Memory Usage and Garbage Collector. Ola also brought up issues with threading as it runs on Native threads or Green Threads and briefly discussed as how to check memory usage of applications in JRuby using JConsole and other Java tools.

Gautam Rege (Co-founder Josh Software) and whose company extensively uses Ruby on Rails also discussed a few production issues.

Last but not the least, Ola and group also discussed issues about support at the Cloud level by Engine Yard as well as using Ruby Frameworks (Cucumber and JtestR) for testing.

It was a productive GeekNight

Overview – Pune User Group: Forum for Microsoft Technologies Developers & Students

(The Pune User Group is one of Pune’s biggest tech user groups, and is a platform for all people interested in Microsoft Technologies in Pune. In this article, we try to give an overview of PUG, it’s structure, and activities. The answers have mostly been provided by Mahesh Mitkari, co-founder of PUG, with additional inputs from Vikram Pendse and Pradnya Naik.)

What is Pune User Group?

PUG is a group of technology enthusiasts who are dedicated to spreading knowledge about Microsoft Technologies. It consists of people from various educational background and different age groups – students as well as professionals. PUG is a not-for-profit organization, a user group supported by Microsoft Corporation, the International .NET Association (INETA), and GITCA (formerly Culmanis).

How did PUG get started?

PUG was formed in February 2003 through the combined efforts of a few volunteers, Microsoft and INET. It started as an online discussion group for .NET Developers of Pune. In December 2003 the first offline user group meet was held in Wadia College and after this PUG has never looked back back. It’s no more just a .NET user group, and now it became a group for all Microsoft technologies. Every year new sub-groups have been added to PUG and now PUG became a big family – including PUGStudent – Pune User Group for students, PuneITPro – Pune User Group for IT Professionals, where we generally talk about IT related topics like servers, clients, networking etc., PASS Pune Chapter, for SQL experts, and PUG-MED i.e. Pune User Group for Mobile and Embedded Devices, SharePoint, SIG etc.

How big is PUG now and what are its major activities?

PUG is almost 8 years old now. We have around 7 special interest groups, around 20+ campus clubs in various colleges, 2100+ online members, around 8000 mailing list subscribers and a Team of 40+ volunteers. PUG regularly hosts lots of online and offline activities for professionals as well as students. Activities include regular monthly User Group meetings, various Product launch events for Microsoft Products, workshops, boot camps, online webcasts and our very special annual events like DevCon (developers conference for professionals), AcadDevCon (developers conference for students) and SharePoint Day. At college level, we have a team of 20+ MSPs (Microsoft Student Partners) who actively run campus clubs in their colleges and regularly conduct seminars, and workshops.

What help are you getting from Microsoft to run PUG? Also, what other organizations are there that help PUG?

PUG is an independent not-for-profit organization. It relies on the support of its various sponsors. PUG is officially supported by Microsoft Corporation and also by various international Associations like INETA, GITCA, PASS, and Microsoft UGSS. Support comes in various forms, specially funding for events and speakers, pre-release product trainings to our speakers, and books, training material, beta products etc. Along with these there are many IT companies and educational institutes of Pune who always support us by sponsoring our event or providing their Infrastructure for our activities, best example of this I can say is Persistent Systems Ltd.

Has your involvement with PUG helped you personally or professionally? How?

Mahesh Mitkari writes:

Of course, yes! PUG has played a big role in my carrier development. I was part of PUG from its birth, as I was one of the founder-volunteers of PUG. Today I feel very proud of this. I meet many technology gurus at PUG and learn so many things from them which always helps me in my Professional life. I made many friends not only in Pune but many other cities of India. They are just a one click away from me – for professional or personal help. I’ve been awarded “Most Valuable professional (MVP)” award by Microsoft 5 times so far, and I don’t think it could have been possible without PUG and the biggest support of all my friends here.

Vikram Pendse writes:

I joined PUG online forums as regular “User” who logs in to check on the latest Microsoft Technologies at PUG. At that time I was a student doing my post graduation. I got inspired by various PUG enthusiasts and I started conducting PUG sessions in my college and also slowly started contributing to the online forums. PUG lead, Mahesh Mitkari, and other members recognized my contribution and encouraged me to attend PUG meetings and I became a volunteer of PUG. Due to this, I was able to get the Microsoft MVP Award in the Year 2008

It was because of PUG that I started Silverlight activities, and as a result was awarded the First South Asian Silverlight MVP. PUG has given me recognition in the Pune community as well as various other communities across India and outside India as well. PUG has helped me to enrich my technical skills and added much more to me to become good IT Professional. PUG is fun and learning, and it is a good friend and teacher for me, and will be with me for years to come.”

What other related user groups could be created in Pune, and how?

As mentioned earlier, from last 8 years we adding User Group for all Microsoft Technology, While thinking about Expanding PUG and starting other related user group, I think we still have big scope to expand PUG, we still don’t have a User Group for Office Users, Architects, Project Managers, Business owners, and one biggest community of Consumers – the regular users of Windows or MS Office – specially non-technical or semi-technical people.

What do you mean by INETA APAC, GITCA, PASS, MVP, MSP?

Well out of these INETA, GITCA and PASS are international associations who support User groups worldwide. MVP is the award given by Microsoft and MSP is educational program.

  • INETA APAC: The International .NET Association Asia Pacific (INETA APAC) provides structured, peer-based organizational, educational, and promotional support to the growing worldwide community of Microsoft .NET user group, INETA’s mission is to offer assistance and resources to community groups that promote and educate their membership in Microsoft’s .NET technologies. INETA welcomes user group or special interest groups from all facets of the .NET user community including developer, architects, project managers, and IT Professionals.
  • GITCA: The Global IT Community Association represents over 1000 member organizations and over 5 million IT professionals. GITCA is the world’s largest international not-for-profit independent organization powered by dedicated volunteers devoted to the development and growth of the IT community by providing services to support leaders and connect user groups, associations, and student IT organizations. GITCA stands committed to the free exchange of resources, ultimately elevating the status of the IT Professional both in their industry and in the community.
  • PASS: The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an independent, not-for-profit association, dedicated to supporting, educating, and promoting the Microsoft SQL Server community. From local user groups and special interest groups (Virtual Chapters) to webcasts and the annual PASS Community Summit – the largest gathering of SQL Server professionals in the world
  • MVP: Most Valuable Professional: The Microsoft MVP Award recognizes exceptional technical community leaders who foster the free and objective exchange of knowledge by actively sharing their real world expertise with users and Microsoft. Over 100 million people take part in technical communities every year. Microsoft awards around 4000 MVPs, in recognition of their exceptional community contributions, sharing of real world expertise with others. We have around 4000 MVPs in over 90 countries, speaking over 30 languages and awarded across nearly 90 technology areas. Over 65% of MVPs are outside the USA.
  • MSP: The Microsoft Student Partners is a worldwide educational program to sponsor students majoring in disciplines related to technology. The MSP program attempts to enhance students’ employability by offering training in skills not usually taught in academia, including knowledge in various Microsoft technologies.

Persistent Foundation – Donating 1% of Persistent’s Profits to Social Causes

Most PuneTech readers will be familiar with Persistent Systems as the global IT company with 6300 employees, working in four key technology areas: Cloud, Mobility, BI & Analytics and Collaboration, for over 300 customers spread across North America, Europe and Asia. For more than two decades, Persistent has partnered closely with innovative enterprises and some of the world’s largest technology brands.

What is not as well know, however, is that since 1995, Persistent Systems has been donating 1% of its net profit every year to NGOs in the field of health and education since 1995. To institutionalize the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative the company formed a public charitable trust, named Persistent Foundation in 2008. The Persistent Foundation is primarily involved in three key areas of Healthcare, Education and Community Development.

This fiscal year, Persistent Foundation contributed Rs.1cr towards social work and supported 44 NGOs through their Pune, Nagpur, Goa and Hyderabad offices. Some of the unique activities and programs the Foundation carried out and participated in were student and girls scholarship program, cyber genius competitions across schools, infrastructure development at schools and villages, exhibitions for promoting NGO activities, breast cancer screening initiative, blood donation camps, text books and uniform donation drives, teaching English and Math to students of govt. run schools, planting trees to preserve the ecology of the hills in and around Pune, providing computer education to under privileged school children and teachers etc.

One of the aims of pioneering the Persistent Foundation was to encourage employees to take part in social welfare activities. ‘We have received a great response from the employees who enthusiastically participate in various initiatives like Student Scholarship Program, Green Persistent Movement, Blood Donation Program, etc.’ Says Sonali Deshpande Chief Trustee of the Foundation. This year the Foundation has also launched an innovative ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ program for the employees of Persistent. ‘Under this program the employees will be given a unique opportunity to implement their ideas related to social welfare which will be supported by the Foundation.’ Says Ms. Deshpande.

The Persistent Foundation focuses on the improvement of its immediate neighbourhood and the overall betterment of society. ‘We firmly believe that it is our moral duty to give back to the society that lends us an identity.’ Says Ms. Deshpande. The areas of health, community development, and education require immediate attention and the Persistent Foundation has been very actively involved in upholding these causes since its very inception.

The Persistent Foundation is actively soliciting proposals from local NGOs who are doing work in these focus areas.

Times Animage – 2 day conference on Animation/Gaming

Times Animage is a two-day exhibition and conference on animation, gaming, visual effects, design, and comics. It is organized by the Times Group in association with DSK Supinfocomm (the animation college in Pune). It is co-sponsored by the Government of Maharashtra and BIG Animation.

It is expected to feature latest trend and emerging opportunities in the Indian gaming and animation industry.

Some of the people expected at the event include:

  • Ashish S.Kulkarni, CEO BIG Animation (I) Pvt.Ltd,
  • Michael Zauner, graphic design and after effects trainer, in charge of visual communication studies, DSK Supinfocom International Campus Pune-India,
  • K Rajesh Rao, CEO Gametantra,
  • Dhimant Vyas, animation film designer, nga Games India,
  • Vaibhav Kumaresh, The Animation Society of India,
  • Anup Tapadia and Vivek Mehta from Touch Magix Media,
  • Nishith Takia, co-founder & director of Krayon Pictures Pvt. Ltd, Pune-India,
  • Chetan Sharma, Animagic India Pvt Ltd Mumbai-India,
  • Saraswathi Balgam director, Rhythm & Hues Studios India,
  • Dheeraj Verma and Anand Gurnani, Animation Xpress India Private Ltd

See more details from ToI

Fees and Registration

The event will be held on 27th and 28th May, from 10am to 6pm, at Pride Hotel. The event is free and open for anybody to attend. To register contact Janaki 98230 55525 or Subh 98811 98988.

GeekNight with Ola Bini – Core Developer of JRuby – 25 May

ThoughtWorks Pune invites all developers to their latest GeekNight tomorrow at 6:30pm. GeekNight is a series of a talks about cutting edge technology, where you also get to meet like-minded geeks.

This GeekNight features a talk “JRuby for the win” by JRuby Core Developer Ola Bini.

JRuby is an implementation of Ruby for the JVM. It gives you unprecedented integration with the Java ecosystem while still having access to great Ruby libraries such as Rails, RSpec and many more. The last year has seen lots of uptake for JRuby, many new committers, thousands of bugs fixed and lots of new functionality.

This talk will give a short introduction to JRuby, and then provide more information about where the project is now and where it is going.

About the Speaker – Ola Bini

Ola Bini is a core JRuby developer and is the author of the book “Practical JRuby on Rails”. He works for ThoughtWorks in Chicago. His technical experience ranges from Java, Ruby and LISP to several open source projects. He likes implementing languages, writing regular expression engines, YAML parsers, blogging, and other similar things that exist at the border of computer science.

About GeekNight

GeekNight is an informal meeting for technologists to exchange ideas, code and learning. It is held periodically at ThoughtWorks offices in Bangalore, Pune, Chennai and Gurgaon.

Venue, Time, Fees and Registration

The event is on Wednesday, 25th May, from 6:30pm, at ThoughtWorks Technologies, Panchshil Tech Park, Yerwada. This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

Minor Celebration time: now has a Google Page Rank of 5

We’re very happy to report that now has a google rank of 5.

To a large extent, we have never really worried too much about the SEO of PuneTech, or the design, or a whole bunch of other stuff that webmasters typically do (and should) worry about. Since PuneTech is a non-commercial, hobby project that we do in our free time, and since that free time is limited, we have always chosen to focus our efforts on producing good quality content, rather than other aspects.

However, it would be very naive, and unrealistically idealistic of us to say that SEO is not important. If we don’t rank highly in Google results, people can’t find us, and that sort-of defeats the purpose of a site like PuneTech. Of course, we do value regular subscribers much more than the casual users who land up on our pages via search engines, but still, the further growth of PuneTech does depend upon getting such users, and then converting them to subscribers.

Hence, we’re very happy that Google’s algorithm has promoted us to a Page Rank of 5. It was very easy for us to reach Page Rank 4, which we managed to do just a few months after PuneTech was started. But there we stayed for a while, and last year, as we went through some downtime, some server headaches, and a 2-month long break, the Page Rank had dropped to 3 for a while. But now it is at 5, which is a significant milestone.

For those who don’t understand what Page Rank means: Page Rank is a number assigned to websites by the Google Search Engine and indicates the relative importance of these websites. It goes from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible. This is an ‘exponential’ scale, which means that, very roughly, a site with PR of 5 is ten times more important than a site with PR of 4; and also it is ten times more difficult to attain a PR 5 compared to getting a PR of 4. It took us 4 months to reach PR 4, and 40 months to reach PR 5 – which sounds about right. (Of course, many websites never make it past 3 or 4, so it’s not just a question of time.)

To put things in perspective, see the PuneTech list of Top-Ranked Pune Websites. You’ll note that only 3 Pune sites have a PR of 7 or more (C-DAC at 8, and IISER and IUCAA at 7). That’s it. There’s a handful of sites at PR 6. It is very unlikely that there are any Pune websites at PR 6 or above that are not already listed at that page. The list of sites with PR 5 is also fairly small, and comprises a Who’s Who of Internet in Pune, although this list is incomplete – and there would be a bunch of other sites that we’ve missed. (If you find any, please edit that page, or let us know.) In short, PR 5 is pretty good.

Still, one of our primary goals remains unachieved so far.

For many search related to technology in Pune, PuneTech pages have started showing up somewhere on the first page. If you search for “Pune Technology” on Google, PuneTech shows up as the second link. Which is great. But the first link is a terribly outdated, and totally pointless page from We’ll never be really happy until PuneTech ranks above that page in a search for ‘Pune Technology’. If you have a website, please help us in this noble goal by linking to from your site.

Call for Speakers: IndicThreads Conference on Mobile App Development – 2011

Regular readers of PuneTech will know that we believe IndicThreads conducts the best vendor-neutral tech conferences in Pune, and hence we’re usually glad to promote the CFP for their conferences. Currently, the CFP for their Mobile Applications Development Conference (to be held in Pune on 19, 20 August 2011) is open and we would like to encourage our readers to submit proposals.

Since IndicThreads is a paid conference, PuneTech does not promote the conference itself on the PuneTech home page, but we’re happy to promote the call-for-speakers, since that is free, and it allows the selected speakers to attend the conference without having to pay. There are of course other benefits to being a speaker at one of these conferences – including increasing your visibility, becoming known as a domain expert, etc.

This CFP is soliciting speakers in the areas of mobile applications, mobile application platforms, frameworks, tools, testing, performance, security and in general anything interesting related to mobile applications.

The last date for submitting the proposal is 15th June, and right now, you only have to submit a short abstract of what you will be speaking about. So, it is as easy as just clicking here and writing one paragraph about whatever work you’ve been doing in the area of mobile app development recently. Just do it.

Break ke Baad: Tips for Moms re-entering the IT-workforce after a break

(Last week, Persistent Systems played host to a week-long workshop by “Break ke Baad”, a newly created group in Pune which aims at helping women who are looking to re-enter the IT-workforce after taking a pregnancy/children related break in their career. As a part of this workshop, I was on a panel discussion about opportunities amongst startups and other smaller companies for such ‘break-ke-baad’ moms. This article is based on that discussion, and an email discussion that I had initiated on the Pune Startups mailing list)

Let me first start with the common concerns of break-ke-baad moms:

  • Cannot work full-time: Even when a break-ke-baad mom is ready to get back to work, in most cases, she cannot work full time. Typically she can work part-time (maybe 9am to 2pm – when the kids are in school), or she needs to work from home for a significant fraction of time. This means that she is unsuitable for some roles, and/or some companies will simply not consider her.
  • Out of Touch: After having taken a break (typically of 5 years or more), most are out of touch with the latest trends in their field, and would typically not have skills in the latest technologies. The fear is that they are less employable because of this.
  • Lack of confidence: Both of the above issues result in many break-ke-baad moms significantly lacking in confidence that they will be able to perform, or in fact even at their ability to get a job.

My experience is that none of these are real problems and break-ke-baad moms can not only get good quality jobs with flexible timings, but there are certain circumstances where companies might actually prefer them over other candidates. Here are some suggestions:

  • Target startups and smaller companies: Consider a typical small company with 10 to 20 employees. This will usually have a couple of co-founders who’re senior people, and most of the other employees would be freshers or juniors. They desperately need a few senior people in the company who can serve as team leads – for their maturity and experience. And they find it very difficult to hire senior people for two reasons – first, most seniors prefer to do jobs with larger companies, and second, many companies at this stage are not able to afford the salaries of seniors.
    This is an situation tailor-made for break-ke-baad moms. First, since they can only work part-time, their salaries will also be proportionately lower, making them more affordable to the small company. Second, larger companies are much less accommodating as far as the time-constraints of break-ke-baad moms are concerned and hence the small company and the mom are made for each other.
  • Be aware of your strengths: Most break-ke-baad moms are not aware of their own potential. Here is a list of skills that companies would look for because their junior employees are typically missing those:
    • Maturity – which pretty much any mom will have!
    • Team-lead skills – if you have any team-lead experience in your background, this is valuable
    • Communication skills – if your English is good and/or you’ve done presentations in the past, then you have a valuable skill
    • Ability to handle customers – the sad truth is that most junior employees in India are just not good enough to be allowed to talk to customers directly. So if you have some customer facing experience, or good communication skills, you should highlight this during your interview
    • Ability to help with hiring – Seniors at a small and growing company spend a very large fraction of their time in interviewing or other hiring related activities. So if you’ve any experience of that in your past, you will have a skill that most juniors don’t have. Even if you don’t have hiring experience, your seniority and experience put you in a position to pick up this skill easily.
  • Appropriately highlight your past experience: I’ve noticed that most break-ke-baad moms behave as if they are inexperienced juniors appearing for their first interview (or at least this is the impression I get). The reason for this is their break, lack of information about latest trends, and the general lack of confidence. However, this is a mistake. Any experience is valuable in some way or the other. I’ll just give two examples:
    • Suppose you’ve done 3 years of J2ME programming for mobile phones. You’re concerned that your J2ME experience is worthless because nobody does J2ME programming these days, and you don’t have any experience with Android/iPhone/Blackberry etc. However, you need to separate out the short-term, not so useful skill (J2ME programming) from the long-term, useful skill (domain knowledge of mobile phone development). Try to look for companies that are doing some mobile development (Android, iPhone) and they will value your past experience
    • Suppose you’re a teacher who taught herself programming (or did a core Java + advanced Java course) during the break. Now if you go looking for a regular development job, you’ll be treated as a developer with zero experience. This is a bad situation, and few companies will prefer you over a fresher out of college who’s willing to work until 10pm. However, if you approach companies building educational or e-learning software (and trust me, there are many of those), and tell them that you are a teacher who knows Java, they’ll probably start jumping with joy at having found such a unique combination that is ideal for their needs.
      My point is this – look at what part of your past experience has long-lasting value, and then search for companies that would value that. While doing this, don’t forget to take into account the skills from the previous bullet point (hiring, communication, team lead, etc.)
  • Approach companies through references: Most of the hiring at smaller companies happens via references. Sure, they have websites where you can submit resumes, and they have HR email addresses where you can send an application, and they even employ recruitment agencies. In spite of all of that, most hiring happens through references. Which means that if you’ve found some interesting small company, you should try to find someone who knows you, and knows someone in the company, and get them to forward your resume.
    How do you do this? Linked-in is your friend. I’m sure most of you have a linked-in account. If you have a very small number of contacts on linked in (i.e. less than 50), then focus on increasing it. Link with all your past colleagues. Link with your friends from college. Link with recent new contacts you’ve made in the industry (you do attend some tech events, don’t you?). Once you’ve 100 or 200 contacts (takes some effort, but not very difficult to do), you’ll find that searching for any company will give you some employees of that company who are “2nd degree” links in your network. This means that if you go to that employee’s profile, linked in will give you a list of people you know, who also know that person. Mission accomplished!
  • Learn about latest trends: Pick a domain or domains you’re interested in. Use some Google searching to find the top websites/blogs in that domain. Figure out how to use Google Reader (or some other RSS reader), and use that to “subscribe” to those sites, and read daily. A few months of doing this will make you almost as knowledgeable as someone who never took a break, and will boost your confidence significantly.
  • Be flexible about the role: It is very likely that given your constraints, the company might not be able to give you a role that is exactly like the role you had before the break. First, smaller companies tend to give more responsibilities to individuals, and hence you’re likely to be given a role with a combination of multiple responsibilities. Second, the company is likely to create a special role just for you, based on your constraints and their requirements. Hence, you should be willing to take on roles different from what you originally had in mind. For example, testing, quality assurance, training, customer support, are roles that you might be offered, and where you maturity and experience as well as your previous development background will actually help you do a very good job.
    Other areas/roles to look at would be documentation, pre-sales support, project/program management, content creation (writing articles / white papers), and KPO (knowledge process outsourcing).

There are also some common misconceptions that I would like to clear out.

  • Part-time doesn’t stay part-time: Many are worried that a company might promise a part-time job, but in reality expect you to stay late on a regular basis and it becomes pretty much a full-time job. This is not true in most cases. Most companies will honour the time-constraints as long as they were made very clear during the interview process. Once in a while, there can be a deadline due to which you might have to stay late for a day or a few days. But this would be an exception, and shouldn’t happen more than once a month or once in two months.
    There are a few bad companies where due to bad time management, or simply because the founders are evil people, everybody is forced to work more than is reasonable. Hence, it is important that you talk to the founders and/or your immediate managers during the interview process, and reject the job offer if you don’t feel comfortable about those people. Do not get desperate and accept a job just because you think you won’t get another one.
  • Late night calls: In most Indian IT companies, it is very likely that there will be some conf-calls with people in the US or UK; but especially with smaller companies, this situation is not very bad. My guess would be that in most cases, there would be an average of 1 or 2 calls of this type per week. Most companies will be OK if you take the call from home. Most companies will also try to accommodate your constraints, but it is not always possible, as the timing depends upon various factors. Most of these calls will be “regularly” scheduled calls, so you know their timing beforehand, and can make arrangements at home to be able to take the call undisturbed; once in a while calls might get scheduled at the last minute and you’ll need to scramble a bit. My experience is that most break-ke-baad moms manage this without causing too much of a strain on their home-life balance.

How to find interesting small companies where you might find a good role? If you’re in Pune, here are some suggestions:

  • Join the Pune Open Coffee Club. It’s free, and there are lots and lots of small companies represented there. Poke around on that website, the various forums there and sub-groups. You’ll find interesting people and companies.
  • Join the Pune Startups mailing list. Follow the discussions there. See who’s posting, and use google/linked-in to find out information about their companies.
  • Subscribe to the PuneStartupJobs mailing list and watch who’s making job postings. None of those job postings will be an exact fit for your profile, but this is how you find out about interesting companies who are hiring. You should then approach the companies directly and try to explore whether they might have a role for you.
  • Subscribe to the PuneTech Calendar to keep track of latest tech/startup events in Pune. Attend the ones you find more interesting. Most importantly, talk to as many people as possible before and after the event. Let them know your background and the fact that you’re looking for a job. Good things will start happening after a few months of doing this.

Last week, I asked a bunch of entrepreneurs on the Pune Open Coffee Club whether they would hire break-ke-baad moms, and what qualities they would look for. And, one of the most common answers I got was this: “We don’t care about time-constraints, and part-time vs. full-time, and other things. The most important consideration for us is the attitude and passion – everything else is secondary.”

So my overall recommendation is this – realize that you are a valuable commodity in the job market, identify and highlight your strengths, approach the right companies, and go with confidence.

(Thanks to Rajeshwari Godbole, Shekhar Sahasrabudhe, Santosh Gannavarapu, Arun Kadekodi, the “Break ke Baad” group, and the Pune Startups mailing list for inputs and feedback on this article. Note: I’m obviously not a domain expert in this area, so if you’re a break-ke-baad mom who has actually been there, and done this, your inputs would be very valuable – so if you have additional suggestions, please leave a comment below for the benefit of future moms.)

Post-mortem of the Amazon Cloud Disruption

Last month, Amazon Web Services had a major outage which resulted in downtime for a number of companies who are using AWS as their infrastructure provider. This has given rise to a host of concerns for everybody interested in cloud computing, and it is important to understand the reasons for the outage, the long-term implications, if any, of this outage, and most important of all, what changes users of cloud infrastructure should make in their architecture and processes so that they’re less affected by such problems.

Suhas Kelkar, who is the Director of the Innovation Team at BMC Software India has done this port-mortem of the incident.

Note: if you have trouble viewing the video embedded above click here. Suhas has created this video+slides presentation using kPoint another Pune-based cloud software product.

A couple of years back, Suhas had written an article for PuneTech titled Musings on Why Cloud Computing will Prevail which is also interesting reading in this context.

How to prevent such outages from affecting your own infrastructure? A few days after the outage, Dhananjay Nene, Chief Architect at Vayana, and also a consulting software architect, wrote an article arguing that the cloud just got stronger as a result of the AWS outage.

Here are his recommendations:

AWS has multiple availability zones. An application should ideally leverage at least two. If you read the Netflix presentation I referred to, Netflix apparently uses three. Do not assume the servers will not go down. Assume it is possible that at least one availability zone could go down. Make sure you have the systems to quickly activate, systems in the alternative availability zone. For that you will need to find ways to keep data current across availability zones. Also find ways to ensure you have the ability to quickly switch to and fro between availability zones. More advanced options could include concurrently active systems across availability zones or those spread across AWS regions or even between AWS and other vendors.

Read the whole article, and also check out Dhananjay’s blog.