CSE Conference Keynote

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My thought on chances of Sri Lanka in economic hard times.

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CSE Conference Keynote

  1. 1. Is IT the Silver Lining? Srinath Perera Architect, WSO2 Member, Apache Software Foundation
  2. 2. A Silver Lining in a Hard Time <ul><li>We all look for a Silver Lining, does it mean it is there? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well not necessarily, well we are hopeful. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does technology is the “Silver Lining”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not sure, but like to share some thoughts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prediction is a risky business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.&quot; – Ken Olsen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I am confident that, 30 years from now, the goto will still be alive and well and used as widely as it is today” – Anonymous Reviewer. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Hard Times
  4. 4. History Says Otherwise <ul><li>13/25 best companies at 2008 where launched in a economic downturn (Including 3M, Microsoft, Walt Disney, GE). </li></ul>Source :The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times, Scott Anthony & http://www.drjeffcornwall.com/2009/02/the-silver-lining-of-economic.html Great Depression, 1929-1937 Polaroid 1948-1949 MacDonald 1973 oil crisis (1973 - 1975 Microsoft Early 1980s recession - 1982 and 1983 IBM PC Late 1980s recession - 1988 to 1992 CNN and MTV Early 2000s recession - 2001 to 2003: the collapse of the Dot Com Bubble Apple IPod, Google got market share
  5. 5. Necessity is the Mother of Invention! <ul><li>More Money does not necessarily mean more innovation. </li></ul><ul><li>In good conditions, we tend to take less risks, and we tend to do evolutionary solutions rather than revolutionary solutions. </li></ul><ul><li>People do Amazing things when things are at Stake. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, Apple did a great turnaround around 2001-2005, starting with the IPod to reclaim most what they lost [1]. </li></ul>1. Apple's remarkable comeback story, Amanda Cantrell, CNNMoney, 2006
  6. 6. A Fire Open up the Space for New Trees <ul><li>In a Good time, competing against established companies is a uphill battle for a startup </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is a saying that “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all Good ideas survive the market. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hard times even the battlefield and change the “status quo” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. People look for Open source solutions these days, cost saving possibilities are fully explored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good news for countries like SL, who has to fight a uphill battle to build a competitive advantage. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Bad Time to Sell, but Cheap to Build <ul><li>Bad times mean </li></ul><ul><ul><li>easier to hire people. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>start up costs are cheaper. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VC can write smaller checks. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It is hard to sell things, but if you are going to take 2 years to build a product, you might end up marketing it with the boom. </li></ul><ul><li>Governments may end up pumping money to keep the balance. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Innovation to Break the Vicious Cycle
  9. 9. Bad times may open up the playing field, but to win, we need innovations! <ul><li>Revolutionary rather than evolutionary! </li></ul><ul><li>High impact, life changers! </li></ul><ul><li>It is about building a competitive advantage </li></ul>
  10. 10. IT is a High Impact Science <ul><li>Panel of eight judges from University of Pennsylvania named 20 life changers, 7 of which are IT based. </li></ul><ul><li>It touches on every aspect of our life. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A report [1] from Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, USA said that “A day without IT => A day word stand still”. </li></ul></ul>1. Assessing the Impacts of Changes in the Information Technology, R&D Ecosystem
  11. 11. CS is called the Third Pillar of Science along with Theory and Experimentation <ul><li>We design, build using, build with, and run with the help of computers. </li></ul><ul><li>Most cutting edge research are limited by need for CS solutions </li></ul><ul><li>A Physics major @IU told me, research mean 80% programming (he mean it as a complaint, but I took it as a compliment!) </li></ul>
  12. 12. We (IT guys) are well Placed to Make High Impact Innovations e.g. Few Nice Ideas I have Seen
  13. 13. Amazon Cloud <ul><li>They have to allocate Computers for “Black Friday” and “Thanks Giving Day”, which is 10s times larger than the normal load. </li></ul><ul><li>They had a problem, all those computers lay idling. So they invented the cloud, and sold computer power to others while it is not in used. </li></ul><ul><li>Using a simple solution, they set up a new trend. And then all the Hell broke lose! Now we have 100+ definitions of cloud computing .. some says Amazon cloud is not a cloud :D </li></ul>
  14. 14. Information over Wheels <ul><li>India Wanted to do E-Governance, but some villages do not have connectivity. </li></ul><ul><li>But all of them had a Bus, from village to the nearest City. Why not send the information with the Bus? </li></ul><ul><li>Idea has been used Again </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Polar Grid collects data from instruments by flying a plane time to time over the equipments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We were talking about Offline data collector for Sahana few years back. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Google and Scale <ul><li>Google started with the Page Rank Algorithm, which is using recommendations by other pages to rank a page . </li></ul><ul><li>But they built their competitive advantage with handling very Large Scale processing. Now “Google is synonyms to scale”. </li></ul><ul><li>They built their architecture on top of </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Map-Reduce, a simple idea borrowed from PL theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Realization of the inherent trade-off between scalability and consistency, where they gave up consistency to gain scalability. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. A Formula to Make a Impact <ul><li>Not Known! Well otherwise you can not earn big money with it. </li></ul><ul><li>Few pointers I heard on the way </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We all have strengths, play for them – e.g. Sri Lanka can never compete with numbers, we can only compete with Quality. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stick to the basics: focus on strengths and weakness of computers – e.g. it is fast, it can automate most well defined tasks, it can communicate and connect but can not make complex decisions (at least not yet). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Key to innovation is not the time you said “Euraka” rather when you says “this is fishy”” – Prof. Andrew Lumsdaine. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Example Strategy: Open source I see some opportunities in open source, but by no means it is the only way.
  18. 18. Why for us, Sri Lankans, IT is one promising direction? <ul><li>Because it needs relatively less initial cost. </li></ul><ul><li>Of course we need brains, but I do not see any problems in that front. </li></ul><ul><li>It is one of these rare arenas where we have a reasonable chance of fighting chance. e.g. We do pretty well in Open Source right now. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I said “I am involved with Axis2”, and he said, “then you must be a Sri Lankan!”. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Our Battle Front: Open Source <ul><li>When companies are short of cash, they look at open source solutions seriously. </li></ul><ul><li>With world debugging and Fixing, open source projects have sometime best commercial solutions. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IBM have gave up their Web Server, Servelt container, and Web Service container long time ago. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apache server has 60% market share. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This gave open source projects a fighting chance against giants like IBM, Microsoft, at least on some cases. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Sri Lanka and Open Source <ul><li>Sri Lanka lead few high impact open source Projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. Apache Axis2 – 300, 000 + downloads last month from the main site. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sahana - the 'de-facto' global disaster management software system, used in Incidents in Pakistan, Indonesia, three disasters in the Philippines, and Peru, China, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sri Lanka is the Largest contributor to open source for all of Asia. 5% of Apache committers are now from Sri Lanka,10 Apache Members. Sri Lankan Apache Web Service contributors are considered the experts on the topic. </li></ul><ul><li>It has open up many business opportunities (e.g. WSO2) and given us (WSO2) a fair chance of competing with the best. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Summary <ul><li>Bad times are not that bad to Innovation, it could sometime help. </li></ul><ul><li>Winners need to come up with High impact life changers! </li></ul><ul><li>IT is a high impact science! IT guys are in a perfect position for high impact innovations. </li></ul><ul><li>Open source is one way that can give Sri Lanka a competitive advantage. </li></ul><ul><li>Parting comment: May be Opensource is enough, may be not! I am sure there are other ways as well. We have to figure them out. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Questions?

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