Web Innovation 2007 Day 2

5 minute read

Yesterday, I attended Day 2 of the Web Innovation 2007 conference.

The irony to note is that the conference website is so NOT Web 2.0. For example, where are the slides that people can download? These guys can learn a thing or two from the foss.in website and conference. Again, for a web innovation conference, why is there no wifi? How are you supposed to access the websites?

On the other hand, this conference has been surprising to me in the sense that it actually turned out to be interesting. I think the quality of people who have come to speak here is high and that's probably because these people are high up in the decision-making chain and they have come to talk about what they do best - websites and business.

Of course, the other half of the speakers are doing just boring sales pitches but that didn't deter the audience from asking tough questions and seeking their value from it. They even directly questioned how their company lives up to what was described in the presentation.

Web Innovation 2007 1

Continuing Day 1's trend, here are the transcribed notes:

  • Jayabalan (CTO, Netmagic) on "Building scalable and resilient infrastructure for web applications"

    • Users, Connectivity, IT infrastructure, Application infrastructure
    • Challenges - Growth (number of concurrent users), Hardware failure, Software bugs, Security threats
    • Management and maintenance, Connectivity/routing issues, Secure connectivity, Cost
    • Failures can't be avoided
    • Features and functionality alone not sufficient, Performance also required
    • Difficult to get people with end-to-end knowledge
    • Recommended setup - Storage, SANSw, Web + App + DB, Switching, Accelerator, Firewall
    • Develop for future - scalability in all layers
    • Performance optimizing techniques - Compression, TCP multiplexing, TCP optimization, TCP buffering, Caching, CDN, Load balancing, URL/content/cookie switching, Content modification, SSL offloading, Surge protection
    • Please outsource parts of these infrastructure to experts who have good infrastructure and service
    • Netmagic caters to all of the above (can it get more blatant than this?)
    • jb at netmagicsolutions.com
    • Replies to audience that Yes, Providers in India do have such infrastructure now. Power and Connectivity are major issues that you can't scale in-house, so outsource it.
  • Rohit Varma (Founder and CEO, Techtribe) on "Delivering Value through Social Networks"

    • (Unfortunately, missed this session in the business track because the session in the other tech track was long)
    • Get into the press, only way, do not depend on viral marketing
  • Pradeep Gupta (Chairman, CyberMedia Group) on "Media Incumbents embrace Web 2.0 to survive and thrive"

    • Internet reaches only 4% of India
    • 90% of internet users on 9-10 websites
    • Touch and feel has to supplement online activities
    • Cross-media strategy a must (such as Miss India contest using online polling to sms to TV)
    • ciol.com - 1 million unique users per month
    • All major Indian sites including rediff and indiatimes have big traffic but have flat growth now
    • pradeepg at cybermedia.co.in
  • Kiruba Shankar (CEO, Business Blogging) on "Business Blogging"

    • Examples of Club Mahindra on how a bad user's blog post can have detrimental effects on your popularity even though the actual product maybe good. Once they asked that person to visit a Club Mahindra resort, he went back and changed the post to a less negative-minded one and actually listed pros as well.
    • Audience says lots of company internal blogs, but very few external blogs
    • Corporate blogging hasn't taken off because people are afraid and no one wants to take responsibility
    • But Kiruba reminds people of Robert Scoble and Microsoft
    • Very interactive session, lot of views from some people saying it's about credibility to others saying that only people with no work actually blog.
    • Kiruba said it's a double-edged sword, if you don't think it's right for your company, don't do it. But if you do, if you have to dive in and there's no turning back.
  • Varun Singh (CTO, Web18) on "Scaling Web 2.0 Infrastructure using Open Source software"

    • (Too much info on slides, font size too small to read)
    • Services - Apache web service + HAProxy load balancing
    • Code and volatile cache - PHP/Perl applications, memcached
    • Nonvolatile and Managed data - MySQL DB and GlusterFS storage, Cache Logs
  • Manas Ranade (TIBCO) on "Four Quantum States of Ajax"

    • (three-fourth people already said they use Ajax frameworks, so why explain the history again?)
    • 4 quantum states
      • A, J, X - all communication
      • DHTML widgets - enabled with asynchronous communication (maybe)
      • Multi-widget libraries - shared underlying services
      • RIA frameworks
        • Common GUI, data, communication frameworks
        • Ability to visually author GUIs and more
    • Framework
      • OO JS foundation
      • Data Cache
      • Communication
      • Data Bindings
      • Pub/Sub event
      • Logging and Debugging
      • Out-of-the-box GUI components
    • There are > 45 Ajax frameworks out there, including ones by Adobe (I assume he means Spry)
    • TIBCO General Interface available both under BSD and proprietary licenses
    • Says it doesn't require client-side plugins ( ;-) )
    • (I think we take all of these features for granted in Adobe Flex, so I personally didn't see the novelty)
    • mranade at tibco.com

Web Innovation 2007 3

  • Darpan Munjal (CTO, eCommerce, Indiatimes) on "Future of eCommerce"
    • Not tech, not features, but business i.e. transactions and features for this activity
    • Evolution: Transact -> Involve (implicit community) -> Engage (explicit community) -> Empower
    • Evolution: Sell products and services -> Build relationships with customers
    • Crowdsourcing
    • Future - Moderators, Community Managers, PM, Sales
    • New game : Community -> <- Corporation
    • Right incentives are important for the community
    • Many examples of this new game on how the community has taken over aspects of traditional companies
      • Category Management : Zlio
      • Content Editing : Kaboodle
      • Marketing : ThisNext.com, SellABand
      • Technology : Amazon web services allow you to build stores sourced from Amazon
      • Product Design : Threadless.com (where you can upload T-shirt designs)
      • Support : woot.com
    • All good but what about India?
      • About building trust
      • About transparency
      • About empowerment
      • About understanding barriers in ecommerce and leveraging communities to overcome
    • Opportunities for India
      • Assisted eCommerce (affiliate based communities)
      • Human filters for finding better products and better prices
      • "Geek Squad" for service market
      • A/B testing -> A/B/C testing where C is for Communities
        • For example, DellIdeaStorm.com
    • New ecosystem
      • Mashups such as social shopping or niche vertical sites (using web services) and they focus on communities (say cooking community, etc.)
      • Base is Indiatimes Shopping, etc. who are horizontal shopping portals
    • Key Considerations
      • Popularity is becoming popular i.e. Minority view is getting lost, so provide alternate methods of navigation to make "long tail" accessible
      • Tagging may reveal good, bad and ugly
      • Offer incentives for community to contribute, example epinions.com
    • I asked what kind of community participate in such websites, I would think wannabe artists will put their T-shirt designs on Threadless, but not professional artists. He said that's where incentives are important.
    • darpan.munjal at indiatimes.co.in
    • Presentation available on his blog commercewiki.com

Lots of food for thought here.

Point to note for wannabe-entrepreneurs : Really think about what is the value that you are giving to people. Relatedly, I liked the 'stadium' analogy by Sandeep yesterday.

P.S. Cold weather + Cold AC + irritated throat + cough + slight fever + just out of horrible traffic + rain = bad.