The winner of the Data Center OS wars

If you came here looking for THE one definitive answer, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There is none ! There are lesser contenders for the title than, say, two years back, but the battle is still on.

Microsoft released its new virtualisation offering, Hyper-V, on thursday and has decided to take on the golliath of the virtual world, VMware, head on. Friday saw VMware’s stock at NYSE crash by almost 14%. Granted Friday wasn’t good for most tech stocks at NYSE, but the writing on the wall is clear. VMware has some tough competition on it’s hands. And the markets seem to agree.

For almost a decade now, VMware has been the undisputed leader in providing virtualisation solutions. So much so that the company’s revenues have been growing more than 80% YoY since the last 5 years. The company commands a 90% share of the over $1 billion virtualisation market. VMware’s IPO last year was arguably the biggest tech IPO ever after google. VMW debuted at an almost 100% premium and soared to a high of about $125 over the next few months. The stock is now valued at a relatively modest $51 and the hype appears to have cooled down and the stock was doing quite well till Friday after MS’s announcement of a product which is in direct competition with VMware’s flagship solution.

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80% of US businesses run Macs

According to a yankee group report, 80% of US businesses run Macs. While the number itself is staggering what is even more interesting is that this percentage is almost double the 47% of mac running businesses from just two years ago. Not surprisingly, a good 28% of these businesses still use virtualisation to run Windows on these macs.

While I’m not the right person to comment on this data, I’m not particularly surprised. Macs have been gaining market share with the general public since the last few years and its good to see  that businesses have started looking at the viability of putting macs in the hands of their employees. I’m sure the above number includes mom and pop stores who use a mac to do their billing and not much else, so the percentage of macs in big enterprises will still be low but even this represents a big change.

When Apple announced the moving of their entire line of computers to Intel based chips instead of the PPC architecture, who would have thought the implications of the move. A lot of people from the mainstream press and the apple zealots were unhappy with the move and for some reason or the other decided that Intel chips just won’t cut it for apple.

I, on the other hand, think that the move to Intel has been the biggest contributor for this new found love for Macs among the PC community. With an Intel powered mac, the consumer has a good looking machine which allows him/her to run windows, play games and use Mac OS X, even at the same time with virtualisation software from one of the major vendors.

The move to Intel in itself was a trigger for an even bigger revolution, Virtualisation. While virtualisation has existed on the Mac platform for some years in the form of products like the Microsoft’s virtual PC, the market was a very niche one and anyone who has tried using Virtual PC to run windows on a PPC mac, would testify that it isn’t the best of experiences.

With an Intel chip, however, things changed and virtualisation just became a lot easier … and faster and consumers actually started appreciating the value of the technology. That in my opinion has been the real trigger of this mass exodus of PC users towards the mac platforms. The power to be able to run their applications and do the things that they’ve been doing for ages on a newer better and more powerful platform.

Shopping in Bangkok – 2

Sharninder: This is the second part of the writeup written by my wife on our Bangkok trip. The first part is here. Look around for more Bangkok articles here.

SHOPPING

Now let me come to the first reason of my love for BKK. The shoes. They do have the best variety, the styles, the colours & the PRICES. I could have bought more but I was forced to stop at about a dozen. Other than the shoes there is lots’n’lots of stuff one can buy. Here is my selection of shopping areas –

SIAM Centre/ Paragon/ Discovery/ Central World – these malls are conveniently located next to each other as soon as you get off at from the BTS at SIAM Square (obviously :)). Well, they have ever thing a normal mall has but at a much larger scale. All the designer labels, all the cool gadget stores, the big-big food courts, specialty store (The loft was excellent), multiplex and Ocean World.

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A week in Bangkok, Thailand

Sharninder: A different perspective on our trip to Bangkok, by my wife. Well, as you can see Shopping was (and is) on the top of her list and that is why I have a seperate post on shopping in Bangkok. So, without further ado, here it is …

After years of yapping, planning & cribbing about the shoes, bags, belts, T-Shirts that I wanted to buy in Bangkok…this year I finally went there.

Well! There is a reason why they call Thailand the land of smiles. It is difficult for anyone (esp. women) to not smile when one can shop till they drop and still have things they haven’t explored yet & money they haven’t spent yet. But to my surprise, shopping is NOT the only thing worth mentioning about BKK (although I’ll keep mentioning it again & again :)). It has lots of other goodies – Authentic tourist hot spots (The Grand Palace, Wat Pho), Thai Foot massage, Food & Drink (street food & beer gardens), Creative window display at Malls, colourful cabs, awesome tuk-tuks, the life saver BTS, weirdest of weird hairstyles & of course the buzz of ‘Swadee-kha’.

TOURISTY THINGS

We did the obligatory tourist attractions like the Grand Palace & Watpho. Let me tell you a few of my favorites….

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Facebook’s cleanup act

No, facebook is not going away. And yes, they’re cleaning up their act.

If you are one of those for whom facebook, or FB as the fanboys call it, is the be-all and end-all of social networks, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that facebook is working on version 2.0 of their social platform which is going to make your profiles a lot less cluttered than they currently are. The bad news is that the changes are going to be quite far reaching and might force you to learn a new way to interact with facebook and its applications.

I’m one of those who tend to think of the applications as the killer feature of any social platform. I mean, meeting people and interacting with them is all fine, but nothing beats the fun of turning your best friend into a vampire or sending over virtual roses to your high school crush. For people like me, the redesigned facebook will bring about a change in the way we interact with the applications. Until now, a user had to install an application to be able to use it, but after this change, the user will be able to see an application after a simple authentication and then decide wether he/she wants the application to be displayed in the apps tab. Yes, unlike the current interface, there will be a tab dedicated to applications.

As a facebook user, I think thats a good thing. This would atleast take some clutter out of my profile page, for sure.

For the developers, though, this isn’t such a good thing since the developers will now have to put in more effort in their applications. Given the short attention span of web users, the developers will have to impress the users enough to be able to make them add their applications to their apps page. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that the applications now have a whole canvas to play but the bad thing, like I said, is that the applications themselves will have to improve and the promotional methods, bordering on spamming, used by applications of the past, will not work now.

Only time will tell wether this move will be beneficial for facebook per se, since they really don’t have much time before the opensocial scene picks up.

Shopping in Bangkok – 1

Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. But, the truth is … It really is. Everywhere you go in Bangkok, you’ll see people shopping, haggling and generally having a good time at it. Shopping, apart from eating, might well be described as the national activity of the Thais and, trust me, they’re good at it.

There are generally two schools of thought to the whole shopping in Bangkok thing. One type of people like to shop in swanky malls in air conditioned comfort and the other group wants to see the ground reality and love to shop in stinky bylanes and crowded markets. I belong to the first school of thought and I’ll tell you why, in a while.

Bangkok offers umpteen shopping avenues for both kinds of people. There are huge airconditioned malls as well as open air markets offering bargain buys at dirt cheap prices.

This post is an attempt to guide the first timer to Bangkok in his/her quest for the eternal shopping experience.

We’ll start with the obvious, the Siam central area. Siam central is the BTS interchange station for the Sukhumwit and Silom lines. The BTS is connected by a skywalk to the Siam Center mall and this is where most visitors start their trip in Bangkok, like we did, mostly because of the fact that its connected to the Skytrain station.

 

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Suan Lum Night Bazaar

Suan Lum night bazaar is a market in Bangkok’s Pathum Wan district, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless/Sathorn Roads, opposite Lumpini Park at the Bangkok Metro’s Lumpini Station.

To reach here you can take the BTS to the Sukhumvit interchange and then take the MRT to the lumpini park station. The market is just outside the Lumpini park station of the MRT.

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Travelling in Bangkok using the BTS (Skytrain)

Bangkok as a city is known for two things, the exquisite architecture of the Grand Palace and the various Wats (temples) and the traffic. Every tourist that comes to Bangkok has the historical monuments on his/her TODO list and getting stuck in traffic used to be an unavoidable part of the journey.

The BTS (complimented by the underground MRT system) has dramatically changed this. The Bangkok LRT systems cover a lot of the tourist attractions and it is now entirely possible to stay in Bangkok and not use the taxis and tuk-tuks for transportation at all, if you’re fine with walking around a bit.

Coming to the city from the Airport still requires one to use a taxi or a bus, that also will change in the next couple of years once the BTS airport link becomes functional, work on which is going on at a rather frantic pace.

Now, coming to the topic this post is all about. Hordes of repeat tourists come to Bangkok every year and this post is not meant as a guidebook for them. This post is meant to direct first timers to Bangkok and help them make some sense out of this chaotic, yet, charming Asian metropolis.

The BTS system is divided into two lines, the main Mo chit to On Nut, Sukumvit line, and the smaller National Stadium to Saphan Thaksin, Silom Road line, with an interchange station at Siam.

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Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments, Bangkok – Thailand

We stayed at the Abloom serviced apartments during out recent visit to Bangkok. The hotel is a short 5 minute walk away from the Sanam Pao BTS station and a very convenient place to stay, if you’re not interested in being close to the touristy areas of Sukhumvit, Silom or Siam center, this is an excellent option at a reasonable price.

The area is predominantly a residential area but the proximity to the BTS station makes it an ideal base for all your sightseeing visits to the other parts of Bangkok. The Jatujak or JJ weekend market is just two BTS stops away while the Siam center interchange station is 3 stops away in the other direction. The Sanam Pao station is close (walking distance, infact) to the Ari and Victory monument stations (both in the opposite directions). There are a couple of malls and posh eating joints close to the Ari BTS station but if you’re in the mood to sample some local street food, go to the Victory monument station and eat your heart away.

The 7-11 next to the Sanam Pao station is going to be your lifeline while you’re staying at the Abloom apartments, since being a serviced apartment, they do not have a 24 hour cafe and you’ll have to thank the 7-11 for all your midnight cravings :-)

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Suvarnbhumi International Airport, Bangkok



Suvarnbhumi international Airport opened late in 2006 and has been catering to the huge air traffic that Bangkok gets each year. Suvarnbhumi is by all standards one of the biggest airports in the world and coming from an Indian airport it was actually intimidating as I stepped out of the Aircraft into the huge terminal. Ok, Maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but you get the drift. The aiport is huge, modern, clean and easy to navigate, unless you get tired walking the kilometer or so of duty free shops. Thankfully, the airport has moving walkways.

Thailand has a visa on arrival facility for Nationals of certain listed countries, including India, China, Bhutan and 17 other countries. The complete list of countries is available here. The airport is well marked and all signs are in Thai as well as English and it wasn’t difficult to navigate around the airport for us. This was in contrast to the Kuala lumpur international airport where we were lost for the first 30 minutes as all signboards were only in Malay. I found the arrival experience at Suvarnbhumi much better than KLIA.

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