Tuesday Jun 14, 2011


Had no idea on the variety of Kimchee one could eat. Had no idea Kimchee could be served for breakfast, lunch, pick-me-up snack, and of course between dinner courses. "Deep fried kimchee rice" for breakfast! Only in Seoul.... yummy.

Spent the day yesterday listening to all the interesting work going on in Korea. Some of you might know, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) Ranger supercompting cluster went live - the numbers are astounding, as expected - 52K compute cores interconnected with no more than 2 microsec latency between cores with a supporting filesystems delivering greater than 10GB/s to the nodes. A paper on the topic is here. We just closed on the largest cluster in Korea, all Sun x86 systems, Magnum IB switches etc. Nice.

Flying to Mumbai tonight, not at the latency I would like. How can it be 10 hrs to get from Seoul to Mumbai?

Talking about latency, the graphs below are not new, you have seen the raw numbers on previous posts from me. Give us a few more weeks and we'll add lines and bargraphs with 2 more entries - RHEL and SuSE-RT. Hopefully 3 weeks from now.

Asia Bound

Not looking forward to the loooong flight and trip ahead, but atleast ending up in a bunch of exciting places. Sitting at Newark airport right now, checked into flight to Narita, Tokyo. From there to Seoul, Korea. From there to Mumbai, to Delhi and finally to Singapore for the week of March 10th, back home March 16th.

Seoul is an internal staff meeting, where we are trying to figure out engineering coverage models for APAC. Sun, not unlike other global providers, is investing heavily in APAC, and my job is to make sure that we cover the Financial Services accounts well there. The Globals, like Citi, JPMC, Goldman, Merrill, AIG, AXA etc. But also the dominant locals, like Mitsubishi, Bank of China, Reliance Capital, Reserve Bank of India and so on. Temasek made news not long ago, with its investment in Merrill after the CDO debacle. Temasek is owned by the Singapore Govt., and we should be covering them, alongwith other Soverign funds. Most exchanges in APAC are modernizing at a phenomenal rate, and after our work with the US based exchanges like PHLX, NASDAQ and NSX, we know a bit about exchange infrastructures. I am hoping to especially speak with the commodities exchanges in some of these cities

Mumbai will be meetings with customers looking to build out new infrastructures, Singapore is primarily Standard Chartered Bank and prep for the Asian Bankers Summit - Microfinance is big, Islamic Banking and Insurance are big and we have been investing in these trends. David Piesse is a colleague, he heads up our Insurance business and writes regularly on Microfinance and Islamic Insurance. Technologies like Open Storage and Blackbox are exciting to them - why would you invest in proprietary technologies today, if you had a greenfield environment? Alternative distribution and service channels are critical, and technologies like SOA and Identity Management enable these.

Selfishly, I am really looking forward to Mumbai, Delhi and Singapore. Yes I have family there, but the weather! I am leaving New Jersey right now with sub-zero temperatures (Seoul will be similar), but Mumbai and Singapore are hot! Delhi is beautiful. Maybe a little golf.... now to just get there!

Back home, and completely jetlagged...

Why can't a body actually get used to jetlag? I have been doing reasonably intense global travel for the last 2 years, the first couple days on either side seem to get completely butchered.... and it seems to be getting worse :-(

London and Zurich were very successful, met with a bunch of Capital Markets customers, spoke at 2 large (100+ developers in each) sessions, one in London with Lehman and other in Zurich with UBS. The title of the presentation was - "Managing Moore's Law - How to handle massive data volumes". Its posted here.

The idea was to tell the developers that the days of just waiting for Moore's Law to kick in and give them a faster clock to make their application run better, are kinda over. Getting 2x the clock every couple years is not going to be the case going forward. Thats the bad news. The good news - they will get lots more cores, lots more integrated ASICs on the CPUs. So what do they do to make their software scale to a larger number of execution units?

The presentation ends with talking about some newer concepts - what happens when you throw 10,000 cpus at a problem? or a 100,000? Will todays MT programming concepts and languages scale? Peta-scale software is lagging peta-sclae hardware, severely. Transactional Memory and Fortress address this problem.

Intel was also kind enough to have me speak at an event in London last week where they got 8 different firms together to discuss the Intel and Sun relationship, and what the two firms are doing together to help Capital Markets firms with their number crunching problems.

Its 4:25am ET, any point trying to go back to bed? Naaah... markets in Europe are already open, time to watch some CNBC and see which scandal is breaking in Europe now!

Lagavulin and ice hockey

As the Copenhagen Climate Change summit kicks off, the US Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant dangerous to human health, thus giving itself power to regulate CO2 emissions. President Obama pre-poned his trip to the summit, his previous arrival date being the last day of the summit. A glimmer of hope that something might actually happen? A big change since the APEC conference, where the backpedaling from various APAC leaders was already starting on what could - or more appropriately - could not be accomplished in Copenhagen.

This month's travels took me to Edinburgh Scotland, where I spoke at RBS's International Risk Congress on "Innovation in Mobile Financial Services". Speaking to the audience on Mobile Payments, NFC payments, non-traditional players in payments such as Telcos, PayPal, Apple etc. made for an interesting talk. Using an example of location based services often given by my colleague Carl Morath - a movie poster over which you would wave your iPhone, which would pop up a list of theaters within a mile of your current location, allowing you to buy tickets using your phone, storing the tickets on your phone, and offering you coupons for restaurants around the theater where you use your tickets - made everyone realize the power of mobile payments.

I then headed over to London, and repeated the talk at one of RBS's many locations. I had an interesting debate with someone from the audience about the core competence of established banks, and whether transactional banking was moving into an area where banks did not have much value-add. We also had a conversation about Web2.0 properties and virtual monies - why would Facebook need anyone to go to a bank to send e-flowers to a facebook user? For those of you who are not following statistics, Facebook now as 350M registered users. That by the way, is the population of the United States.

The best part of this trip - the two excellent bottles of Distiller's Edition of Lagavulin gifted to me, yummy!

Monday and tuesday of this week were spent in Toronto, meeting with some key partners and customers. Fidelity Information Services is a great partner, we work on lots of initiatives together including their core banking and wealth management platforms. I had a very interesting and thought provoking conversation with Interac - the Canadian equivalent of NYCE and PLUS - a non-profit organization connecting the Canadian financial institutions together. We spoke about all the non-traditional players in payments like Telcos, Paypal, Apple and NFC payments and location based services etc. etc. I ended the day with ITG, another great customer that supplies solutions to Capital Markets companies for Trading, Wealth Management, Risk etc. We spoke at length about Solaris on x86 (HP or Sun), their market data infrastructure that runs entirely on Solaris, and other new projects that they are planning.

The Canadian banks just keep chugging along. They are seriously revamping their capital markets operations, spending lot of time and money on all trading desks - Derivatives in particular.

Oh, and I did get to see a hockey game - Canadians as as nuts about this game as us Indians are about cricket. The local team won, which I am sure was why I could make it back to my hotel by 10:00pm!

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