Monday Sep 21, 2009

China & India Fuel Growth With Infrastructure Projects

While the U.S. is still trying to stimulate spending of U.S. consumers with its economic stimulus programs, countries such as India and China appear to be making much better progress.  On a recent trip in September to China and India via Singapore one can visibly see that Asia Pacific is not standing still and putting idled factory workers toward new infrastructure projects.  Talking with customers and partners in China and India only confirms what could be described as a best practice for any nation looking for economic recovery.

Earlier this year Beijing announced a $585 billion (U.S. dollars) stimulus package (~13% of China's 2008 GDP). As part of this stimulus package China will spend this year $50 billion (U.S. dollars) alone on the ambitious worlds biggest high-speed (started in 2005 and expected to finish in 2020) railway which will connect Beijing, Dalian, Xuzhou, Lanzhou, Shanghai, Kunming and Guangzhou. Beijing's economic stimulus is directly targeted at the ~20 million idled workers in China due mostly to the 20% decline in foreign sales.  Notable statistics of the new high-speed railway include:

  • The buttresses which carry the tracks will consume 117 million tons of concrete

  • 16,000 miles (25,749 km) of new track will be built
  • The Beijing to Shanghai line will consume enough steel to build 120 "Birds Nest" Olympic Stadiums
  • In addition to construction labor the railway will create jobs for engineers and lot's of them.  The railway will be computerized and require a lot of IT spending and resources.  You can be certain the large IT companies are looking to win this business and provide hardware, software, services and support.  A great opportunity.  Bill Powell wrote a great article in FORTUNE magazine with many more exciting facts which you can read here.

    India's growth is equally impressive despite the global recession.  India still needs to build massive amounts of infrastructure while China is already upgrading infrastructure previous built.  I like to describe China as organized chaos while India is still dealing with unorganized chaos.  In Beijing you see cars, buses, trains, people, bikes, motorcycles all in congested traffic in harmony with the traffic signals.  In Bangalore you have the same as Beijing but with everyone only in harmony with themselves.  Traffic signals get ignored, motorcycles are riding on the sidewalk and intersections, at rush hour, give no clear indication as to who has the right of way.  It's simply something that every business professional should experience because you need to know the customer you are selling.  Both are beautiful cultures and part of the solution of economic recovery in the world.  India too will consume massive amount of engineers, software, hardware and services not only to fuel their IT outsourcing industry but to rapidly build their own nation, infrastructure and ultimately their own economy as a world leader.

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Monday Jun 08, 2009

Renewable Energy - Get Educated, Involved and Excited

Have you made contributions toward a more ECO friendly environment?  Any and all efforts do make a difference when all added together.  While we have made progress in some areas, it is evident that we need to go faster and stronger.  Stop and think of your own personal carbon footprint.  In other words what are you doing that is causing the emission of greenhouse gasses.  When I look at the picture above it resonates 'clean' (it also indirectly infers Lord of the Rings - "The Eye").

Renewable energy is no longer a passion for environmentalists.  I've taken an interest in wind power.  While driving into Boston on Route 93 South you can see a large wind turbine located on your left by Exit #31.  It is situated in the back of a school which is located right in a neighborhood (look at the center of this Yahoo Map for the small white circle, this is where the turbine now resides) The city where this wind turbine is located is called Medford, the city where I grew up.  Being curious and an engineer, I had to get up close and check out this piece of technology.  First of all this wind turbine is HUGE up close!  Even more amazing was that the turbine was right in a schoolyard and neighborhood.  I could not believe how quiet this turbine was operating.  Given that city life is usually noisy with highways, airports and the close proximity of homes; I didn't think that a wind turbine would be acceptable right in a city.  The blades of the wind turbine look high tech.  They reminded me of the Cold War when submarine propeller technology was top secret.  In fact I believe today's submarines are looking at non propeller propulsion.  Why you ask?  Because a submarine that cannot be heard cannot be detected.  The quieter a propeller provides propulsion the harder it is to detect.  It looks like similar engineering went into the wind turbine blade design.  The wind turbine I was standing right under was relatively very quiet.  I assume the turbine's brain adjusts the blades pitch to accommodate the wind speed and weather conditions.  I believe it must have a wind speed ceiling as well as floor as it is not safe to be operating a wind turbine in a hurricane!

In addition to wind there are other natural renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and hydro energy generation. There are also biofuel alternatives such as ethanol from corn and sugarcane.  With all the advancements in clean energy and the opportunity to keep our planet safe it makes you just want to be green too.

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The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.


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