The Modernization Realm

Last week was turbulent. A large mainframe customer faced a database crash, as a result of which operations were shut for more than 24 hours. Huge Business Losses, Operational inefficiencies, Blame games and heavy escalations were the order of the day. Two large tables of 300 Million records each went into an inebriated state as a result of which Online and Batch users were affected.

I was pulled in as a database expert to fix this. Our immediate priority was to make the business up and running and we did this.

However, though majority of the blame was on the legacy nature of the platform, my findings and recommendations for such an event not to occur, were completely contradictory. The platform shall never be blamed, rather the lack of a disciplined approach and technology practice, is what the root cause was. The same application running on a modern technology stack and server, lacking a disciplined approach and technology practice, would face a state of similar nature.

The customer had antiquated out of support software, modern features provided by the current version of the software were not used by the applications, Storage volume allocations were not disciplined in nature as a result of which new volumes were added frequently, without a clean-up being attempted, concept of partitioning or profiling of database records (what’s frequently accessed and what’s not) were not done as a result of which the database grew out of bounds, all indexspaces and tablespaces were overloaded into a single Bufferpool and last but not the least a thoroughly analyzed batch process with appropriate triggers were missing, as a result of which jobs which were not supposed to run in parallel, started running in parallel.

A major airline which suffered a similar crash some months back, disrupting its operations and leaving passengers stranded for almost two days, left the media reporting the legacy nature of the platform as the root cause.

Modernization is always an option for legacy customers, however a disciplined approach and technology practice, irrespective of the platform, is the key to the success of any business.

What are your thoughts? 


“Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest in the land?”

Nice to be back after a long hiatus. When I go back in time and ponder as to what has happened since the last time I blogged, surprisingly too many things have happened and there’s been an ocean of dramatic changes in life. My wife became pregnant, I got a promotion at work, I became a proud dad of a baby girl and the baby grew to become one year old. It all seems to me that I just stopped blogging last night. Life is amazing indeed.

I have been busy with my baby and her pranks off late and I made a conscious decision that watching her mischief is much more interesting than writing a blog.

Well now that you read this blog, don’t think that the tide has turned, she is still an interesting act, you see!

Let’s talk about the Magical mirror as the title reflects. We have all grown up reading Snow White and the Magical Mirror, made even more magical by Walt Disney. So what has it got to do with my blog? Am I narrating this story to my baby – hmm that’s a long way to go. The Snow White story is synonymous to what an IT Consultant’s life at Office reflects. He (Let’s leave ladies for the time being) reports to someone in their Organization hierarchy and let’s assume it to be a Queen (as in Snow White), who thinks she is the fairest (Since we are all Code simians wasting our life in an IT Organization – please interpret “fairest” as Excellent Communicator, Great Leader, the only one who can manage tough re-engineering initiatives, etc) like the Queen in Snow White. The Queen has been around for 28 years in the organization and each year the mirror conveyed she was the fairest (please interpret accurately). Sustaining the “Fairest title” for so long is no mean an achievement, however it was not because she was surrounded by dark monkeys around, it’s just that these dark monkeys subdued and stooped down in their capability value by calling the Queen “Madam” (at times forgetting her Actual name), effortlessly carrying her Laptop bags so that she does she lives 100 years without shoulder pain, giving her luxurious dinner treat at Hotels for every half yearly appraisal, gifting her IPod for every promotion, gifting her children Ipad / Tablets for every Performance Band “A” they get (The highest one can get) etc etc. So these dark monkeys subdued and stooped themselves down so that they don’t come in the vicinity of the mirror and the mirror felt she was indeed the fairest.

This worked perfectly well and much to the rhythm of the Queen’s tunes for 26 years. Did I lose my mathematical edge? No, the mirror recognizes the IT Consultant who has been with the Queen last 2 years as the “fairest”. Queen is irritated, tries all means to disparage him, but beating all suffocation, the IT Consultant survives. After 2 years of suffocation, the IT Consultant has reached a stage where he is nailed to a Glass Coffin (much like Snow White). The otherwise calm and composed IT Consultant becomes very vocal.

He gets himself released from the clutches of this coffin and becomes energetic and aggressive. The queen threatens him to carry her Laptop bags – he refuses. The Queen demands a Mobile phone for the Promotion he received – he whines “Not even a toy Mobile lady”. Remind him of his Promotion treat through him, his parents, his wife – he is rock solid in his decision. Ask him for a luxurious treat for the Performance Band “A” he received – He adamantly refuses. Give him all junk work (going to colleges, preparing flashy presentations, etc) and deny him of all charming work (Globetrotting and visiting exotic locations to meet customers, presenting and earning a good name by projecting the presentations he hss prepared), he is as solid as a pillar, but how about emotionally ?

At this juncture the IT Consultant has 4 options ahead

Option 1Hang the picture of the Queen at Home, spit and shout at her till one’s frustration reaches sea-level (Now it’s nearly 8000 ft above sea-level)

Option 2 Shout at her directly, abuse her and face the brunt 4 months down the line (Its appraisal time you see!)

Option 3 (Very important, my dark monkeys patiently did this) – First shut one’s mouth, listen to the queen (good or bad), keep reminding her that she is the fairest, the organization became so rich because of her, Get some iodex and satiate one’s shoulder pain and above all get her a Diamond Necklace for one’s promotion.

Option 4 – Write a Blog

No prizes for guessing the right option. Open up your thoughts if you’ve been a victim (of Shoulder Pain)

Moral – Life was lot better when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits.

2009 – A Post Mortem

Personal constraints have subjugated me for the past one year from the active Blogosphere. The last time I blogged was exactly a year back and I reappear again for the post-mortem of yet another fruitful -well can’t be decided until I’m done with the blog – year.

There are still many monkeys on my back, which I literally grouped them as Personal Constraints, but the resolution for the upcoming year could be to blog more than what I used to during the previous years.

Another year passes by, and it’s been more of an ambivalent feeling, with happy and an equal amount of poignant events hitting the headlines.

1. The King of Pop – A year that saw the demise of the greatest ever pop star the world has seen. MJ was a revolutionary and has been an inspiration for many. It could be his dexterity in his body movements or his music or even the moonwalk that made him the real MJ. How many of you can bloody land on your toes after three spins? Thriller could be the most successful of his albums, but personally I would rate “Off the Wall” as his best.

2. US Airways 1549 – The year saw one of the most miraculous landings ever by an airplane, after it was forced to land at the Hudson river minutes after take off. The plane bound for Charlotte struck a flock of birds during take-off and with both engines out, Sullenberger maneuvered the jetliner over New York city and smoothly floated it on the Hudson River.

3. Barack Obama – The year saw the blackie officially swearing in as the President of USA. He swears in at a time when the economy is on a total downslide, and whether he can pull it off is yet to be seen.

4. Another Blackie – “Lightning Bolt” ensured that his triple gold at Olympics was no mean luck by beating his own record at the world championships.

5. Roger Federer – Might have started off the year weeping at the Prize distribution ceremony of the Australian Open, but mid-way through the year, he pulled off the only title to elude him – French Open – and also regained the Wimbledon, which he lost the previous year to Nadal. Winning these two titles , not only made him join an exclusive club, but also made him get over Sampras for the most number of grandslams.

6. YSR passes away, which means other cheap players woke up. KCR decides not to eat anything for 10 days resulting in utter chaos at AP and also what could be the 29th state of Republic India.

7. A stupid Mexican mated a Pig resulting in an illness which spread the world like a mami’s mouth, resulting in over 100 deaths in India alone. The illness was termed H1N1.

8. The ultimate Hero of Srilanka gave up after years of fighting for the rights of the poor Tamilians of SL. Do you think the LTTE clan still exists?

9. The Musical millionaire Simon Cowell might have turned 50, but his nasty comments on the partipants would have shattered the hopes of atleast 5000.

10. The biggest elections in India saw the IPL getting shifted to SA.

11. Tiger Woods became “extra-marital” woods. Do you think one can take off the golf in him?

12. Renault receives a two-year ban from the F1 circuit for a race-fixing done way back in 2007.

13. ARR and Resul make India proud at the Oscars.

14. Millions across the world fart, resulting in excess CO2 on earth. Some guys noticed this and decided to meet at Copenhagen to see if the food habits of these Millions can be changed to release more O2 instead of CO2.

Happy New Year Readers.

Flashes Of The Year That Was ….

The Year 2008 fades itself into an archival folder never to be returned and just to be referenced. The year might have survived one second longer as the dying minute had 61 seconds instead of the usual 60, but it sure has become a year of the past.

The concept of January 1, being celebrated as the beginning of the year is a relatively new concept. The Mesopotamians celebrated the beginning of the year in ides of March, around the time of the vernal equinox. Romans later on designated March 1 as the official beginning of the year, but when January joined the Calender sometime during the 150 BC, Julius Caesar officially made January 1 as the beginning of a year. In between the idea of celebrating the new year on January 1 was abolished, but later on reinstated during the Gregorian Calender.

That was some sort of a history for you guys.

2008 might have been a year of ASHES in its literal sense, as Mumbai lost in a first class international game involving fire, ashes, guns and people, but the year will also be remembered for

1. The Black guy whose name rhymes with OSAMA made it to the top. He defeated a white Vietnam veteran in a pure battle of the titans.

2. The American Banks gave loans to people who had absolutely no intention of paying back, and then said “BULL SHIT”.

3. Many people criticised China for its wrong doings, but it shrugged them off and pulled off a magnificent display of the “MODERN OLYMPICS”.

4. India wins its first ever individual Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics.

5. The brilliant Vishy Anand, proved he is brilliant again by claiming the No. 1 Spot.

6. It might have been a sub-standard year according to Roger Federer’s standards, but he did ended his drought with a fabulous win over Murray to claim his fifth straight US Open title. Wimbledon Finals was a treat and will be remembered for a Spaniard named Nadal’s victory and also for the sheer standard of the game being played. Nadal might have toppled Federer to become the No. 1, but 2008 was “The YEAR” for the magnificent Scot Andy Murray.

7. Another Black guy wins, not the presidential election though, but 3 of them at Beijing.

8. The poor guy from the streets of Mumbai did strike it rich.

9. The Windows Guy stepped down.

10. The blasts that shook Mumbai, the Iraqi war at Dubya and finally the jews killing thousands of innocent people at Gaza.

Wishing you and your family a Happy and a prosperour New Year 2009.

Why dont you SUCK your thumb for a change?

Mumbai has been hit with the worst ever terror attacks one can possibly imagine. The most resilient city probably in the entire universe, not only survived these attacks, but rose back up even more rapidly than one would have ever imagined. Its this sheer tenacity which Mumbai has shown, that as indian citizens, we should applaud to. If just 12 to 15 armed men, can do this level of damage, I was wondering, what would be the state of our country, with more heavily trained terrorists. The security system should be beefed up and we should just go and attack all possible terrorists camps.

After three days of such horrendous acts, one should never get the impression that what happened was something similar to what happens in a video game. This was not a mindless shootout, it was a masterpiece in terror attacks. These guys were here for months, received the best possible commando training, planned every single move, and showed their adeptness against our best commandos, for three days. Well what do we call this? Its nothing but a pure war.

This is what Israel, who are surrounded by attacking neighbours and are always prepared to counterattack, responded to India’s actions. They criticised the fact that India’s response to the attacks were slow and unplanned. Well India as a country should stop whining and should come to its senses.

We have had a plethora of bomb attacks in India in the past, but i was wondering why BBC and CNN had this live relay going on for three days continuosly. was it because they support India, absolutely not. Did they run out of news, no way, BBC always has a documentary picturising poor India at its disposal whenever they run out of news and CNN has the oldie Larry King and Anderson Cooper to manage their shows. So what happened to these channels? The answer is, unlike the earlier bomb attacks, this involved foreigners. 

As mentioned earlier, Mumbai as a city has been resilient and has bounced back superbly. But one has to remember that its a wounded city and a wounded city cannot leap into wonderland. Can a wounded man run a marathon? He cannot and he should not pretend to as well. The Rule is that simple.  The spirit of Mumbai is like a fallacy and behind this fallacy, politics hides itself. My heart goes out to all those who lost someone in these ruthless attacks and we can only pray that such acts are being shunned off completely.

Worth a mention here are the magnificent and brave displays put out by our commandos, they deserve a lovely break, sponsored by Tata. I also feel that the shameless Achyuthanandan deserves a seperate blog on itself, for his selfless comments on the commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan.

Lets pray.

The Sub-prime Diwali

Another Diwali passes by. As usual Sivakasi would have multiplied their profits, despite the financial crisis.

Diwali is a national festival celebrated with great happiness all around the country, except for the crude fact that it’s celebrated a day later in North India. I have been pondering over this for a while and it could be because

1. Diwali indicates the last day of the fourteen years exile of Lord Rama and the citizens of Ayodhya lit thousands of lamps to welcome their beloved prince. Legend goes that Rama used the Rama-jet, which probably would have taken 3-4 hours to reach Delhi and later on by train to Ayodhya, as Ayodhya lacks an airport, which explains the two day phenomenon. This could be one of the reasons why North Indians celebrate Diwali a day after my fellow Tamilians do.

2. Lord Krishna killed Narakasura, the Demon King, and rescued around 20000 women from his captivity. Well the celebration could have spanned over two days.

This is the only festival where the financial crisis does not really take a toll on the citizens and tones of money are being lavishly spent at Ranganathan Street cloth merchants.

For children, Diwali is all about variety crackers, starting off from Poothiri to Hydro Bombs. Sivakasi did have the following to offer this Diwali

1. Sub prime VEDI   – Rocket shaped cracker which has the unique ability to either go UP or DOWN depending on the day you light the same.

2. The Palin – McCain Dhamaka – Round shaped cracker, when lit, goes all around, making thumping noises, ultimately dying off unexpectedly. It contains 75 percent SARAH PALIN material which produces the thumping noises and 25 percent MCCAIN material which is the main reason for dying off.

3. The Mortgage Pookutty  – This is the only cracker which costs less, easy to buy and use, but if used incorrectly can lead to house, err… heart burns.

4. The Osama/O’BOM’a SEP-11 Hydro Bomb – Self-explanatory.

5. The Sriharikota Launch Vedi – The specialty of this cracker is that even when lit in a desert, it will end up in the nearest Ocean, however far it might be.

6. Nuclear Deal 2008 Bomb – Custom made BOMB from the United States. It can be fired only from US territories and the destination can be manually chosen from a wide range of countries. Works well if lit by any Gora holding the surname BUSH. Promoted by Manmohan Firecrackers, Sivakasi.

7. Lehman to Layman Bankruptcy Pataka – A special cracker which has the unique ability to burn out all currency notes in a 10 km radius.

Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by one and all, talks about the abundance of autumn harvest. My fellow Indians celebrate this festival by putting on new clothes, lighting up variety crackers and eating plethora of home-made sweets.

As the pomp and show goes on, let’s also take some time off to remember the not so privileged children who try to salvage from the tones of chemicals while developing the crackers at Sivakasi.

Have a safe and an enjoyable Diwali.

The Unholy Nature of Brahmin Marriages

For an outsider Brahmin Marriages are all about rituals, purity, tradition, Variety Dishes, Sarees, sacredness and any adjective that my lovely BRIT’s describe as Hunky-Dory. Its true to a certain extent but for an insider its all about Madisar Mamis and Atheys adding fuel to an already raging fire on Laddoos and Murukkus, the aging thathas showing off their wisdom by advising teenaged girls on what to wear and what not to wear, the NRI Mamis engaging in pep talks on marriage proposals for their son/ daughter and finally my lovely vadyars hap-hazardly reciting mantras.

It’s dirty once you get closer and this article is not about cleansing this dirt with Chennai Tap Water instead its all about revealing the nuances of a typical Brahmin Marriage.

Where do we start?

Obviously when the to-be bride meets the to-be groom. It happens all of a sudden, and it’s about first cum first served basis like a typical airline booking agency, where overbooking can also happen. If the girl is young and educated (MS or MTECH Plus) the boys will have to rush in before someone else snatches her. If the girl is old, whether educated or not, the picture changes altogether. In this rat race, the Madisar Mamis play an important part to ensure that their party wins at the end of the day. Ashtashastram becomes Vadamal, Btech becomes Mtech, 5 ft becomes 6 ft, white hair gets painted with black and handicapped part nicely gets camouflaged and many hidden facts gets modified according to the situation. All this happens for a rat race which lasts merely 10 min long.

So what’s a Brahmin Marriage all about? Custom, Rituals and Sanctity? No way.

A Brahmin Marriage is all about spending money at the wrong place, but holding the expenditure button tight when it’s absolutely necessary. When they spend more money on Nadaswaram and RmKV Sarees they hold their wallet tight on Laddoos and Murukkus, Vegetables, food articles and other critical commodities.

Its all about who gets eligible for the Murukku Pothi, Who wore what saree, etc. Its all about eating variety food 4 times a day for 3 days. It’s all about Nadaswaram guys playing Pink Floyd bits, instead of the traditional “Thayae Yeshodha”, its all about Vadyars, trying to woo more customers while chanting sacred mantras.

“Om Bhoor Bhuvasuvaha” – Cell Rings – “Hello, aa sollungo,” – “Thatsa Vidhur” – OK Nallakku Ganapathy Homam, engae Address – “Bhargo Devassa” – blah di blah. This is how bad it gets.

The Oonjal is one of the most admired ceremonies, where the bride and the groom get to sit on a swing with Madisar Mamis singing some classical numbers. It signifies that the bride and the groom should get the courage to face the UPS and DOWNS of life. Well it all lies in the heart not on a mere swing is my point. The order in which you come and bless the couple for this function, determine the political power you possess in the family. On the other hand, if the bride’s atheys mamis daughter’s maid was missed out by any chance, it creates turmoil.

When two aged and idle-minded Mamis talk to each other by any chance, it ends up in “Nalunku”. The Bride and the groom succumbed to the pressure, ends up in comical acts.

Things got to improve if the insider has to enjoy a typical Brahmin Marriage with all essence. When the Oldies try to throw the flowers hard to bless the couple, which ultimately falls on someone else’s head, why don’t we use Canons lying on display at the Museum for this purpose. When the guests try to sneak in between to hand over gifts which are worthless, why don’t we use a PDA and try to keep a tab of who has given what. When the video wallah tries to capture all functions in his video, why don’t we buy 4 digital cameras, hand it over to 4 teenagers and send one of them to the canteen, one to the stage, one amongst the audiences, and one taking care of young good looking mamis. This can be uploaded to YOUTUBE and can be viewed when required to do so, where as the marriage CD gets viewed only once.

Your views?