[IAEP] [bytesforall_readers] Computing power to every home

mokurai at earthtreasury.org mokurai at earthtreasury.org
Fri Jul 22 22:21:20 EDT 2011


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 22:12
Subject: Re: [bytesforall_readers] Computing power to every home
To: bytesforall_readers at yahoogroups.com

There are some interesting innovations in the Novatium proposal, such as
the use of the mobile phone network to access a cloud computing service,
but there are also several important pieces of the story missing.

1. The notion that this service can reach every home in India under
present conditions is laughable. What fraction of villagers can pay $108
up front and $9 monthly? What fraction of villages has mobile phone
service? Of course, if the first Novatium installation in a village were
available for general use at a modest hourly rental in the manner of the
ITC e-choupal project, that would enable many villagers to make enough
extra money to buy the service themselves, exactly in the manner that
phone ladies in Grameen-style microfinance programs rapidly enable many in
their villages to buy mobile phones.

2. What will the phone charges be?

3. What about computing in schools?

Let us compare prices with a One Laptop Per Child XO-1.75, which costs
school systems $150 to buy, and thereafter incurs only costs for
electricity and in some cases repair or replacement. This Novatium service
will cost more than that within six months, and cannot be taken to school
or to a friend's house. Certainly one can go to a friend's house and use
the friend's family's service, but in the case I am considering that only
works for one user at a time.

The problem is not that there is something wrong with the Novatium
service, which appears to be a technical triumph, and may show some market
strength as well. The problem is that its capabilities are being oversold.

On the other hand, consider what would happen if Novatium's mobile phone
partners did build out their network to every village, and if OLPC XOs and
school servers could use that network. Now we have the best of both
worlds, where computing for children can be provided by governments, and
computing for adults is available to anyone who can afford it, by the
month or by the hour. Nobody loses out, even though some have more
convenience than others.

2011/7/22 Frederick FN Noronha
<fredericknoronha at gmail.com>

    Computing power to every home
    STR Team / Mumbai July 11, 2011, 0:01 IST

    A serial entrepreneur’s vision to drive PC adoption in India promises
to bring computing power to every household through the innovative use
of cloud computing. Novatium, a computing services company founded by
Rajesh Jain in 2004, offers a thin client-based computing solution,
which is delivered as a utility service to households and requires
very low energy to function. The company has filed 10 patents in the
areas of utility-based computing services. Read how the company is
making computing affordable for everyone in the concluding part of
India Brand Equity Foundation’s series Innovations from India:
Harbingers of Change.

    Empirical studies have revealed that the internet and other
information and communication technology (ICT) based tools can help
create a deeper impact since they can touch social, economic and
environmental aspects of human society in many ways. The internet can
help social priority sectors such as education, healthcare and rural
development by mitigating the demand-supply gap (in case of
education), enhancing access for life-saving service (in case of
healthcare) and generating opportunity of new income (in case of rural
development). It can help the government realise additional tax
revenues of two to five per cent over and above the existing tax
revenues. The internet and other ICT-based interventions can help
deliver a low carbon foot-print based economic growth, leading to
savings of 7.8 giga tonnes of CO2.

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    In contrast to the potential benefits, ICT has not achieved the level
of impact that it could have across the developing/emerging world. In
addition to conventional concerns (such as cost of PCs, lack of
connectivity, and so on) there have been concerns among household
users regarding the management of upgrades to existing software,
piracy in software, handling of virus attacks and the breakdown of
systems (often termed as a ‘hard drive crash’).

    Rajesh Jain found a solution to these concerns — a computer interface
with no responsibility behind it. Jain founded Novatium in October
2004 (it began formal operations in January 2005). He is also known
for his web portal Indiaworld.com which he set up in 1995 (and went on
to add bawarchi.com, khoj and khel.com to his repertoire), and sold to
Satyam Infoway in 1999 for $115 million — one of Asia’s largest
internet deals at the time. Today, Jain is the managing director of
Netcore Solutions.

    Novatium was set up with the efforts of Ray Stata (chairman of Analog
Devices, which designs, produces and markets analogue, mixed-signal
and digital signal processing equipment) and Rajesh Jain. Both Stata
and Jain made an investment, which together was worth $20 million, to
set up Novatium.

    The key drivers that led Novatium to develop the innovative service
were to provide consumers with simple computing, coupled with an
obsolescence-proof service. Novatium eventually set out to solve three
problems concerning PC adoption in emerging markets and those are: (a)
Affordability: Use the business model of the mobile industry, and also
reduce the power consumption; (b) Desirability: Develop on the concept
of computing as a utility and provide a desktop-like experience; (c)
Manageability: Eliminate the issues pertaining to desktop management,
eliminate viruses and spyware and enable instant turn on/off of the
service based on individual needs.

    An easy, practical service
    Novatium incorporated the following key features into its computing
utility service:

    Computing as utility. The organisation developed a model whereby the
computing capability of personal computers can be provided as a
utility service, similar to water and power supplies. The model is
based on the concept of thin client application. Generally, the
software on which a PC depends (such as the operating system) resides
in the machine. In a thin client solution, the software actually
resides in a remote location (such as the server of the service
provider). The user sees only an interface (a window similar to a
website’s). The user’s commands and requirements are executed by the
remote server. Connectivity is required for a thin client solution to
work, and this can be achieved through the internet or other private

    Simple and innovative service interface. The user gets only a screen,
a keyboard and a mouse. All the computing is done at the server level.
The software, hardware and connectivity are all on the server, which
are managed by Novatium. The product has no storage, no hardware, no
software, and hence no maintenance and no upgradation issues. The most
interesting innovation here is that the heart and brain of the machine
run on mobile phone chip technology.

    Versatile technology. Compared to other thin clients, Novatium has
certain advantages. Its thin client solution can run on multiple
operating systems such as Linux, Windows, Solaris and Mac.

    Value-driven innovation
    Based on the results that the service has been able to achieve, the
impact of this service is very encouraging, for instance:

    Computing at a reasonable price. Novatium’s offering include Nova
Navigator (earlier known as Nova Net PC) and Navigator Plus. The
prices start at $108 without a monitor (includes keyboard and mouse)
and $184 with a monitor. The device works like any conventional
computer except it has no hard disk (a hard disk option can be availed
of at an additional cost). The device is connected to a central server
from where users can access regular Windows and Office software
packages. The basic price for a Windows package starts from $11 a
month, while for the Linux suite, the price starts at $9 a month. The
other offerings include Nova Neon (a laptop like device with the same
service model) and Nova cNergy (a pendrive like device which lets any
regular desktop or laptop gain access to Nova Computing Services). The
broadband charges have to be paid separately.

    Scalable model. The service has been able to reach a customer base of
40,000 users in the first half of 2010, from a user base of 150 in
2007. The service has delivered 1.2 million domestic usage days.

    Easy and convenient solution There are USB ports for peripherals and
there is no need for a UPS system. In case of a power failure, there
will be no data loss, since everything will be safe on the server. The
device provided by Nova uses 5 watts of power. It doesn’t have any
moving parts, and is very rugged.

    Driving innovation in utility-based cloud computing solutions.
Novatium has a total of 10 global patents. Two of the patents are
titled ‘Providing Utility Computing in a Cloud Computing Environment’
and ‘DUDM’ (Desktop Utility Delivery Model).

    Currently ,the service is present in over 100 cities in India and it
also has a presence in Mauritius and Thailand. On the anvil are plans
to expand the service to other global markets as well.

    Reprinted with permission from IBEF (www.ibef.org)

    FN +91-832-2409490 or +91-9822122436 (after 2pm)
    #784 Nr Lourdes Convent, Saligao 403511 Goa India
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Edward Mokurai
ج) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.

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