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Software Engineer's perspective of Indian politics

18, May 2014 By abhinay

Recently as an Enterprise Architect I had to evaluate three major software vendors for a huge deployment requiring multiple software components. The vendors evaluated here are:

  • CronGess Business Machine (CBM)
  • BhartiyaSoft Corpotration (BS)
  • Aam Software Foundation (ASF)

Below is the report on each of the vendors followed by recommendations:

CronGess Business Machine They are the oldest software company around. Their roots go back to mainframe days. They were practically the largest software company in country for almost 5 decades. Unfortunately, the upper management of company did not keep up with the changing market and technology landscape.

The software company has grown so large that the top management has lost touch with its different BUs. Because of lack of company vision each VP/AVP is going its own way. The top job however has remained mostly within the family of co-founders of the company. Although the current CEO, an Oxford Alumni, is from outside the family, but there have been allegations that the decision making still remained with the company president and the CEO is simply a puppet.Great grandson of the co-founder Mr. R.O.Flandhy, who currently heads CBM marketing, is speculated to become the next CEO of the company.

Leading experts have long pointed at his lack of qualifications and capabilities to take on the top job. Many large marketing events ended in fiasco because of his badly delivered keynote speeches. Latest being the interview given to major technology magazine Techie Times Now, where he failed to explain what software his company develops and what is the road-map. Although throughout the interview he kept repeating few catch phrases like software as service and big data for every question, even when asked color of sky and how many fingers are there in your hands.

Additionally because of the large bureaucratic structure any change in company has become dead slow. The technology is completely outdated, in the days of cloud computing they are trying to sell the same old softwares which were originally designed for Mainframes.

The softwares are no longer under active development and are ridden with annoying bugs. To top it all, the customer support is completely non-supportive. Any user reporting the bug is either ignored or threatened with police complaint for defaming the software. The company also tried to buy and shutdown public forums where users were found criticizing CBM Software products.

Parties and there technology equivalents.
Parties and there technology equivalents.

BhartiyaSoft Corporation They are commercial software company but have their roots in Freeware software offering by developer community Rashtriya Software Systems. Leading software experts have long alleged that BS products are engineered only for a certain OS community. The company management however has always denied the allegation and has stated that they view all Operating Systems as equal citizen.

The company has proposed a uniform OS code, which saw diverse reactions from the technology analysts. While a few has hailed it as a step towards equal application development across all operating systems, while others have view point that maintaining OS specific libraries and separate code base is better way to handle diverse OS landscape.

Back in 2002, the company got some bad publicity when bug in one of their software products led to large scale virus spread in user computers. This bug is now widely known as LiverBleed bug. There have been allegations that bug and virus spread was deliberate conspiracy by VP engineering of that product. The fact that install base on one OS class was more affected than the other is often cited by the CronGess Business Machine and other software companies to indicate that the bug/virus was deliberately engineered.

Mr Nadella Moody who was the VP engineering at the time of LiverBleed bug has denied all allegations and called it a conspiracy to defame his product and company. He claims he tried his level best to control the spread of virus by engaging national anti-virus firms on day-2 itself.

Incidentally, Mr Moody has received many leadership and innovation awards for his product. BS Corporation has claimed 10 fold revenue increase and 100 fold increase in customer satisfaction, a claim widely contested by rival software firms and a few technology analysts. BS Corporation has proposed him as next CEO of the firm.

Supporters of the firm say that people should use BS products because they are tested and tried and have known to be “stable deployments”. While critics have pointed out that the malware VHP and bJRnG.dll gets installed along with BS products and causes most of the BS issues. These malwares have known to affect mostly a specific OS class but at times they have known to affect what movies run in cinema halls and what books users want to read.

BS Corporation also has a tie up with Software Sena Pvt Ltd for few software components, which forces users to buy unwanted components when installing any BS software suite. Other controversies include BS developers attacking developers of other software firms especially supporters of open source movement and at times painting black ink on face of college professors criticizing Mr Moody or BS.

Aam Software Foundation ASF, most recent entrant in market, is an open source software company which claims to revolutionize the technology usage by providing all the high tech softwares at affordable price to all users. ASF has proposed to completely redesign the way software deployments are architectured currently. ASF relies heavily on user commits to its code base as well as user donations to keep company running. ASF management says they want to keep the company user driven and have therefore avoided involving VCs and large private equity funds so far.

ASF drew wide range of reactions; while some users and software experts hailed them for revolutionizing the software landscape grounds up, some labeled them as unpractical idealist, whereas some of technology experts have dismissed them as anarchist programmer movement who will destroy the whole software industry, the economy, the sun, the moon, the stars and all that is good and holy in this world.

ASF has been facing many challenges: Being an open source platform anyone is free to join in and contribute in the development. At times, some developers made bad commits and broke the core functionality. The ASF in their official blog have distanced themselves from these unwanted builds and have since fixed/rolled back the unwanted changes.

Due to less documentation available sometimes users are left clueless on the product features and product road-map. Although volunteer driven developer forums have known to be very active but still they have hard time matching up to commercial softwares.

Last big deployment of ASF software crashed in 49 days. This deployment included integration with other commercial products from BS Corporation and CronGess Business Machines as well. Critics have alleged that this crash was caused because ASF products could not handle the data load. ASF core team has however denied the allegation and said the crash was caused because of incompatibility and unresponsive products from BS and CBM.

Large rival corporations have been pumping lot of money into marketing and bad publicity of open source pointing out that open source cannot match the stability that their proprietary closed source products can offer.

Recommendations: In my opinion CronGess needs a serious organizational revamp from top management to bottom. Once they have a better leadership in place they should re-evaluate their product offerings and refresh them as per current technology landscape and requirements. So for near future they are not an option to consider.

Although currently the ASF’s open source offering is still under active development (version 1.0 GA just released few months back) we need to keep an eye on long term benefits of adopting open source. Open source softwares have known to get stable over a period of time and have additional advantages like greater user participation and adherence to open standards.

ASF also need to come up with a better quality check so that any random contributor is not able to break their core feature. BS needs to better ensure that other malwares will not be installed. BS also needs to do away all third party components like SS which have in past caused issues. BS developers need to take a few classes on anger management and self discipline.

For the upcoming deployments, there has to be a balance between:

  • Current Stability Vs Long term vision
  • Proprietary Vs Open standards
  • Malware/Unwanted component packages Vs Flexible best of breed approach

Keeping in view above reasons it is highly recommended that we use a mix of proprietary software component along with best of open source components. Keeping the ASF’s open source movement alive will keep BS and other companies in competitive mode, ultimately benefiting the user community.

Note: This has been reproduced from my blog