31772a6dd13fa30012a6de614c7ac0fc9734955e5797a33812 Money And Knowledge: September 2013

Indian cos ditching IBM, SAP software for open source

Indian enterprises are increasingly moving to open-source software, recognising the cost benefits and flexibility it offers over proprietary software. A falling rupee, which increases licensing costs, is likely to hasten the shift from softwares made by companies like SAP, IBM and Oracle.

The government has already embraced open-source in a big way — the Aadhaar project is a case in point. Now, companies like Hungama Digital Entertainment, Uttam Energy, Bilcare, payment processor Euronet, insurer Star Union Dai-chi and IT outsourcer iGate — have also started using open-source software. And the list is growing.

"There is a definite trend towards open source from Indian companies," CN Raghupathi, the head of Infosys' India business, told ET. "Lower cost is a factor but so is innovation."

Amit Vora, chief technology officer of Hungama Digital, said though open-source is up to 70 per cent cheaper, the large developer pool for it was equally important. "The open source ecosystem and the ability to boost inter-operability is big selling factor. Plus, you don't have to be at the mercy of the vendors to provide customised features and innovation," he said.

For the past two years, enterprises have moved their servers to open source, but now the trend includes critical software. Business intelligence software and even customer-relationship management software is shifting to open source, said Rahul De, the Hewlett-Packard chair professor in information and communication technology at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Anand Sankaran, senior vicepresident at Wipro Infotech, said telecom firms were evaluating the benefits of shifting to open-source software. "Why can't CRM (customer relationship management) be done on open source? Why do you need a licensed platform to run it — some of the companies have started thinking about it," said Sankaran.

The Indian enterprise software market, which is expected to reach $3.92 billion (about Rs 25,600 crore) this year, is expected to touch about $6.7 billion (about Rs 43,700 crore) by 2017, according to research firm Gartner. Spending on business intelligence platforms — including open-source versions — is expected to rise more than 13 per cent to $74.1 million (about Rs 483 crore) in India this year. This is expected to expand further to $107.4 million (about Rs 701 crore) by 2016.

Sony's PS4 to go on sale next year in Japan

Sony's next-generation video game machine PlayStation 4 won't go on sale in Japan until next year, meaning that it won't be on time for the key year-end holiday or New Year's shopping season. 

Hiroshi Kawano, Sony's chief of the game business in Japan and Asia, said at a Tokyo event that the PlayStation 4 will go on sale February 22, 2014, in Japan. 

The console is going on sale November 15 in the US and Canada, and November 29 in Europe. 

Kawano said the late date was to be fully prepared with game software at its launch, and orders will be taken starting next month. But the product will miss the critical Christmas and New Year's period when Japanese children can count on gifts. 

"We plan to have powerful titles at the launch date," he told a hall packed with guests and reporters. 

"We are asking for some time before we can offer it but please look forward to it." 

Sony will instead sell in Japan, before other nations, the 9,480 yen ($90) PSVita TV, a small device that attaches to a TV set to enjoy music, TV shows, movies and karaoke. The PS 4 will cost 39,980 yen ($400) in Japan. It will cost $399 in the US. 

Nintendo, which makes the Pokemon and Super Mario games, started selling the Wii U console last November. 

But Wii U sales have suffered, selling just 3.61 million of the machines through the end of June. Nintendo is still targeting sales of 9 million Wii U units over the fiscal year through March 2014. 

Microsoft is planning the Xbox One, debuting November 22. 

Hopes have been high in the game industry that the arrival of the three consoles will revitalize the sector, which has lagged from competition from smartphones and other mobile devices, wooing users with their own games, as well as social networking and other pastimes. 

Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, the Tokyo-based company's game division, said demand was strong so far for the PlayStation 4, with a million pre-orders. 

Sony has not given a PS4 unit sales target for the fiscal year. 

The Japan sale date was held off until next year because Japanese game developers have required more time to develop games for the PlayStation 4, he told reporters at headquarters. 

"We wanted to make sure that there was a game experience that resonated with the Japanese consumer," said House.

Daimler aims to launch self-driving car by 2020

Germany's Daimler AG   plans to start selling a self-driving car by 2020 as part of its campaign to regain the top spot among premium carmakers, its development chief said. 

Carmakers and suppliers across the world are working on ways to make driving safer and more comfortable through automation, and the race is on to bring the technology to the mass market. 

"We want to be the first to launch autonomous functions in production vehicles. You can be sure: we will accomplish that in this decade," Daimler head of development Thomas Weber said. 

Daimler, battling to regain the top stop in the luxury car market from German rival BMW, is focusing on so-called highly automated driving, in which cars master situations such as cruising the motorway or manoeuvring through traffic jams while the driver relaxes. 

The car would recognise difficult situations such as dealing with traffic lights or urban driving among pedestrians and cyclists, and hand control back to the human behind the wheel. 

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, is not alone in its ambitions. Japan's Nissan, for example, has also announced plans to launch a car completely guided by computers this decade. 

Testing is already under way in many countries. US internet search and advertising group Google has fitted out several cars with radar-like equipment that lets them navigate roads in California and Nevada. 

The technology will feature at this week's Frankfurt car show, the world's biggest, although experts say the move from dream to reality will likely take 10 to 15 years. 

German auto supplier Continental aims to enable cars to drive themselves at speeds of up to 30 km per hour (18 miles per hour) by 2016, and at up to 60 km/h by 2020. 

Google is reportedly discussing an alliance with Continental on self-driving cars that could be announced as soon as this week. 


Daimler's Weber said it was hard to forecast exactly when drivers would turn into passengers in their own cars. "Autonomous driving will not come overnight, but will be realised in stages," he said. 

One obstacle to overcome is making it legal for cars to steer themselves. European Union laws currently call for drivers to be in control of cars at all times, so test vehicles at Daimler and BMW need special approval in Germany. 

There's also the challenge of convincing drivers of the technology, although Georgeric Legros, a Paris-based management consultant with AlixPartners, believes attitudes are changing. 

"The slightly macho aspect of cars is gradually disappearing in favour of a more functional, safety-minded image," he said. 

"People prefer to be comfortably installed in a leather seat, reading the paper or catching up on email, rather than stuck behind the wheel in a traffic jam or on a monotonous motorway." 

Technology already on the market allows partly automated driving in which motorists stay in control but get a hand from the vehicle. 

Daimler for instance offers traffic jam assistance, which can maintain distance to other cars in stop-go situations, in its top-line S-Class Mercedes, and BMW will roll this out in its new i3 electric car before the end of the year. 

Rivals including Audi and Volvo Cars are moving in the same direction. 

Daimler sees itself ahead in the race to develop robot cars because it says its technology can handle city driving as well as motorways. It uses readily available sensors rather than specially designed technologies for research vehicles. 

A Mercedes test vehicle recently travelled the same 100-km stretch between the German cities of Mannheim and Pforzheim that Bertha Benz drove 125 years ago to demonstrate the practicality of the automobile.

Scientist controls another man's brain via internet

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have conducted the world's first non-invasive human-to-human brain interface in which one person was able to control the motions of another person via internet.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao, a University of Washington professor, sent a brain signal to his colleague Andrea Stocco, causing Stocco's finger to move on a keyboard.

While researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.

"The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains. We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain," Stocco, a research assistant professor in psychology at the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, said.

Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain.

Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.

The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens.

Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the "fire" button, researchers said.

Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-cancelling earbuds and wasn't looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon.

Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.

"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain," Rao said.

"This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains," said Rao.

Rao cautioned this technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person's thoughts. And it doesn't give anyone the ability to control your actions against your will.


Japan to launch ‘internet fasting‘ camps

Japan is planning to propose 'internet fasting camps' in a bid to deal with more than half a million of the nation's children who are addicted to the web, it has been revealed.

The country's government spokesman told The Daily Telegraph that they have estimated that the addiction affects around 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan, but the figure is rising.

A survey of more than 98,000 youngsters found that nearly 8.1% of the respondents were "pathologically" addicted to the internet, and reported trouble sleeping and poor nutrition.

In the camps, kids will have no access to the internet, smartphones or video games and they will be encouraged to play sports and other outdoor activities at the days-long events.

Counsellors will be on hand to help them get a handle on their digital habits.

Achieving green computing in cloud

The cloud lifecycle can be divided into four stages, viz., designing, setup, using and disposal. Green computing in the cloud context can be achieved by ensuring minimum or no impact on environment during each of these cloud lifecycle stages. The objective is to reduce energy consumption and improve resource performance and efficiency.
Green computing in a Cloud can be achieved by initiating a series of transformative actions such as improving Cloud data center design, increasing resource longevity, consolidating resources, and optimizing algorithms. Let us look at each of these in detail.
Data center design plays a very important role and is essential for creating an energy efficient data center with energy saving configuration.
Creating a good data center design requires attention to be paid to the following:
• Data center location:  Decide data center location factoring the data center purpose as well as availability of resources for running the data center such as cheaper electricity and skilled resources.
• Construction of the data center building: While designing the data center, electrical systems must consider the data center landscape and wherever possible leverage the natural lighting. Other factors to be considered are local availability of renewable energy, using outside air for cooling or locating the systems where the heat they produce may be used for other purposes.

LG announces G Pad 8.3 tablet to tackle Galaxy Note and iPad mini

Ahead of next week's IFA tech show, LG has officially unveiled its rumoured G Pad 8.3 tablet, which it hopes will rival similarly-sized options from Apple and Samsung.
As the name suggests, the new G Pad has an 8.3-inch screen, which packs a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200. LG claims it as the first full HD tablet in its size category.
The device bares an extremely strong resemblance to the company's recent G2 smartphone, with a slimline, minimalist design.
Internally, the G Pad 8.3 comes loaded with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (no 4.3 out of the box), there's 16GB of storage and a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB RAM.
The company is also promising a new app called QPair which will enable users to manage calls and messages by pairing up with a smartphone.

Stiff competition

LG has said it will launch the device in the US and Europe in the fourth quarter of the year, but is yet to confirm pricing. Perhaps we'll find out more from the show floor at IFA in Berlin.
Just as it is in the smartphone world, LG is up against stiff competition to break the Apple and Samsung stranglehold in the 8-inch category.
Apple is rumoured to be launching a second-gen iPad mini before the year is out, while Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0 is a highly-rated option.