Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pune Startup Pulse: Fill out’ Survey of Pune’s Startups

As they often say, India is a continent in itself. With diversity galore, every region has its own flavor. So is the case with startups! Bangalore is oriented towards technology while Mumbai is more of a financial hub. The differences aren’t very obvious but each region has their own set of characteristics.

And to startup in any city, it is very important to know the local nuances. A step in this direction, is launching the “PuneStartup Pulse” which is an online campaign to know the city better. have been to Pune with the Techsparks roundtables previously and have very recently been covering startups from the region as a focus (here, here and here). Intensifying the effort, YourStory is launching this survey which will help us further to understand the region and chart it out.

YourStory’s has previously done Startup Pulse surveys about Bangalore and NCR.

As a result of the campaign, they will come out with a detailed report about the startup ecosystem in Pune. And in the run up to the report, they will be be carrying city specific articles for which contributions are also welcome.

Take the Survey here.

And get in touch with for suggestions, queries and inputs for the Pune Startup Pulse.

Excerpts: Interview with Hinjewadi Industries Association

Hinjewadi is easily the most important part of Pune as far as software technology is concerned, and there are many associated infrastructural problems that do not get the attention they deserve. The Hinjewadi Industries Association is an association of industries that is trying to change that.

The Economic Times has an interesting interview with SK Kulkarni, President of HIA. Here are some excerpts:

About Hinjewadi, and the HIA

Hinjewadi contributes around 60 per cent of Maharashtra’s total IT exports. As of now we are able to generate the revenue of Rs 35,000 crore. This area has around 90 companies employing people and generating revenue however, around 50 companies are part of HIA. The major players in this area includes Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, TCS, Persistent, KPIT Cummins along with Accenture and many others.

About the Industries in Hinjewadi

This area has around 85 per cent of IT sector; around 5 per cent of Biotechnology (BT) sector and remaining 10 per cent is manufacturing sector.

What is the objective of the Hinjewadi Industries Association?

The basic objective of the HIA is to have a structured growth of infrastructure, security and facilities for its member companies and their employees. Even today the major issues like security, traffic safety needs to be address.

For more, see the full article.

Ruby Conf is coming to Pune – Call for Speakers is now Open

Ruby Conf, a big, 2-day technical conference of everybody interested
in the Ruby programming language is coming to Pune on 22/23 June, 2013.

The call for speakers is now open. If you have done any work in Ruby, or there is simply some technique, or library that you have used and find interesting, this is your chance to get your 15 minutes of fame amongst the Ruby community in India. This will be a big conference with international participation, so if you into Ruby, you should not miss this chance.

This will be the 4th RubyConf in India, and the second in Pune. Information about the previous ones can be found here. RubyConf India typically sees 500+ participants, and includes notable members of the local and international Ruby community.

Volunteering: If you’re interested in helping out with the conference, please join the PuneRuby mailing list.

For latest information on RubyConf, follow them on twitter.

And, submit a proposal now.

If you are a company that would like to sponsor, the call for sponsors is also open. Sponsorship can be in the form of a direct cash sponsorship, or you could do something else like after-parties, event pre-launch dinners etc.

Turing100 Lecture: Life and work of Judea Pearl – 9 Mar

As part of the Turing100 Lecture Series this time, there is a talk on the life and work of 2011 Turing Award recipient Judea Pearl, followed by a “Turing 100” quiz that teams of professionals and students can participate in.

Judea Pearl was given the Turing award for the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning. On Saturday, 9 March, Mukund Deshpande, Head of the Business Intelligence and Analytics Competency at Persistent will talk about this work.

The event is free for everyone to attend. Register here

About the Turing Awards

The Turing awards, named after Alan Turing, given every year, are the highest achievement that a computer scientist can earn. And the contributions of each Turing award winner are then, arguably, the most important topics in computer science.

About Turing 100 @ Persistent Lecture Series

This year, the Turing 100 @ Persistent lecture series will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth by having a monthly lecture series. Each lecture will be presented by an eminent personality from the computer science / technology community in India, and will cover the work done by one Turing award winner.

The lecture series will feature talks on Ted Codd (Relational Databases), Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn (Internet), Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (Unix), Jim Gray, Barbara Liskov, and others. Full schedule is here

This is a lecture series that any one in the field of computer science must attend. These lectures will cover the fundamentals of computer science, and all of them are very relevant today.

Fees and Registration

This is a free event. Anyone can attend.

The event will be at Dewang Mehta Auditorium, Persistent Systems, SB Road, from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 9th March. This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

Invisible Bugs or Why Every Developer Must Understand Details of IT Infrastructure

(This article is adapted from a very interesting post written by Sunil Uttamchandani, Co-founder and Director of Services at Mithi Software, a Pune-based Software Products company specializing in software for email, collaboration and other enterprise products. The article first appeared on the Mithi Blog and is adapted & reproduced here for the benefit of PuneTech readers with permission.)

Most of the education of a Software Developer is centered around programming, and keeping their code clean and maintainable and debuggable, and well-tested and ensuring that customers don’t run into bugs, and if they do, the bugs are easy to find. However, in real life, one of the most difficult category of bugs to find is the “invisible” bug. The first thing you notice about such a bug is that a customer complains about a bug, but you are unable to reproduce it in your environment. Now, if there is one thing you cannot convince a customer about, is that the bug is caused due to some misconfiguration of the software infrastructure in the customer environment. All bugs are bugs in your product, irrespective of what actually caused the bug.

In the Blog of Mithi Software, Sunil Uttamchandani talks about how their products (which deal with email servers and other enterprise collaboration software) often have to deal with “Intangible/Invisible Network Obstacles” when dealing with customer bugs.

Here he describes a recent experience.

A Ghost In the Network

Recently during a POS (proof on site) exercise with a prospective customer, we had to perform a test in which an email client would send mail to a large number of recipients from our cloud email setup and capture performance test results. As a regular practice, we setup the SMTP controls on our server to allow this test, did a test from our environment and then asked the client to repeat the same test in their environment.

The test failed in the client environment.

We enabled the SMTP scanning engines for their source IP to capture detailed information (which would slow down the mail flow naturally), and we found that the client could deliver a few mail, but would give up after a little while. It would simply show the progress bar, but would not move ahead. The logs on our server showed that there was no more connections coming from that client. As a first point of troubleshooting we eliminated the scanning controls and simplified the SMTP rules in our product to speed up things by making no checks for their source IP address. We did another round of testing, but we had similar results. Just a few more mails went through and the process hung again. During this phase, we couldn’t successfully send mail to all their recipients at all. After a few mails, the system would simply do nothing and client would eventually time out.

On the face of it, all looked well in the client’s environment, since the other users/programs in the client’s environment were going about their business with no issues.

Without assuming anything, we performed the test from our office to eliminate any issues on the server side. Once we did this successfully, we re-did the test from our environment, with the client’s data and that too went through successfully. All pointers were now to the client’s environment!

There obviously was some firewall policy, some proxy, or some other transparent firewall in the network which was disabling the test through the given Internet link. On our request, when the firewall policies were bypassed for connections to our servers, the test went through successfully.

This shows two things. Network administrators, and firewalls often interfere with the web connections in complicated, and difficult to debug ways. And, the job of determining the root cause of the problem always falls upon the product vendor.

More Examples of Real Life Network Problems

If you think this is an isolated problem, think again. Sunil goes on to point out a bunch of other cases where similar ghost bugs bothered them:

Several times, our help desk receives tickets for such “intangible” problems in the network which are difficult to troubleshoot since there is some element in the network, which is interfering in the normal flow. Clients find it difficult to accept these kind of issues since on the face of it all seems to be well. Some real life examples of such issues we face:

  • At one of our customer sites, address book on the clients’ machines suddenly stopped working. Clients connect to the Address book over the LDAP port 389. We found that while a telnet to the LDAP port was working fine from a random set of clients, still the address book was not able to access the server over port 389. It turned out to be a transparent firewall which had a rate control.
  • Several of our customers complain of duplicate mail. This typically happens when MS Outlook as a client sends a mail, but retains the mail in the Outbox when it doesn’t receive a proper acknowledgement from the server. It then resends the mail and may do so repeatedly until its transaction completes successfully. On the face of it, it appears to be a server issue, while actually its a network quality issue. Difficult to prove. I’ve personally spent hours on the phone trying to convince customers to clean up their networks. One of our customers, after a lot of convincing, did some hygiene work on their network and the problem “magically” vanished.
  • One of our customers complained that their remote outgoing mail queue was rising rapidly. We found that the capacity of Internet link’s (provided by the ISP) to relay mail had suddenly dropped. So mails were going, but very slowly, and hence the queues were rising. Apparently there had been no change in the network which could explain this. After some analysis, We were quite convinced that the ISP had probably an introduced an SMTP proxy in the network, which had some rate control or tar pit policies. The ISP refused to acknowledge this. To prove our hypothesis, we routed the mail from our hosted servers over a different port (not port 25 – which is default for SMTP). As soon as we did this, the mail flow became normal, even though we were sending through the same Internet link. As of the time of this writing, the ISP is still to acknowledge that there is an impediment in the path for port 25.

These and several more incidents show that problems in the network environment are challenging to troubleshoot and accept.

So What Next?

In other words, to be able to keep customers happy, software developers need to have a very good and detailed understanding of the various IT infrastructure environments in which their product is likely to be deployed, and be able to come up with inventive strategies by which to isolate which part of the infrastructure is actually causing the problem.