Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas. Trees. Stunning Sunset Sky Long Island New York

Christmas. Trees. - IMRAN™, originally uploaded by ImranAnwar.

Though it becomes harder to navigate iced over boardwalks or trudge through snow covered sand, winters also provide some incredibly clear atmospheric conditions.

Even with cloudy skies, the low humidity makes the air crackle with energy, sizzle with color, especially as it comes time for Christmas. Trees, at the Southwest side of the marina at my home, silhouetted against the majestically cold fiery sky complete the Holiday mood. Untouched, unedited photo.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, Happy Holidays to everyone.

© 2010 IMRAN

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Loving Memory Of My Beloved Father, Anwaruddin. Last Man, At Land's End.

Today is the 2nd death anniversary of my beloved father. It was literally at this hour, when I was expecting a phone call from him. The phone rang. I answered, "Hello, Abu (Dad)!". Instead, it was my brother in law saying my Father had just taken his last breath.

This photo, taken at one of the darkest times in my life, was poignant in many ways.

It was coming close to my beloved father's first death anniversary last year when I stood at my beach at home, alone, gazing into the distance, thinking of him, my Mother long gone, life, and the end that one day comes too soon.

The spot I stood at, when I took the photo on October 20, 2009, was where he and I had stood to watch a sunset exactly 13 years before that day, when he visited me in the Fall of 1996.

In a twist of fate, he had come to be by my side at a time of turmoil in my life. He literally cashed in his life's savings and brought them over to give everything to me, to tide over even a few months in that rough patch.

Things improved, great times came about, and I was able to repay him with gratitude for being the greatest father ever.

Last October, as I stood on the beach, the crisis I faced was 100 times worse than 1996. I was on the verge of losing everything I had built with 21 years of hard work in America.

But, what was most difficult was not the material loss, but knowing, I was so completely alone, now that he was gone for one year. I knew I would recover financially, if not here, somewhere else, if not now, someday in the future. But, I would never overcome the loss of both my beloved parents.

As these thoughts washed over me, I looked in the distance and the lone man standing at the end of a dilapidated pier, like a last man, at land's end, felt so symbolic of my state of affairs, and my state of mind.

Even as I saw myself in this picture, I was struck by the contrasts and the dichotomy that is so like our lives. Dark clouds on one side, with bright pink sunset light on the other, lighting the sky.

Here's to us always being true to ourselves, even when we're the last ones standing at the land's end of our own lives.

© 2009-2010 IMRAN

Monday, December 20, 2010

Microsoft's "All In" Journey "To The Cloud", Full Of Hot Air & All Out Of Gas OR Azure Blue Skies Ahead?

Kevin Murphy (a former CTO and now my colleague in an EMC/Cisco cloud computing joint venture) and I were discussing the so-called Cloud Computing "To The Cloud" campaign by Microsoft, just a few days ago.
Today I read an article by Jeff Kaplan, one of my fellow contributors to the very respected INTERNET EVOLUTION media site. Jeff's piece was titled: "What Microsoft's 'To the Cloud' Ads Really Promote".
He is right that the definition of Cloud can still be considered somewhat fluid. But, quite frankly, among actual cloud buyers and vendors, there is enough general understanding and agreement of it, that Microsoft's ads cannot use a vast, errrr, umbrella definition, where everything can be stuck with the Cloud tag.
I ask: If McDonald's burgers can be promoted by a coupon in an iPhone app, is suddenly Hamburger the latest "solution" going "to the cloud"?
I agree with Jeff about how various consumer-driven technology companies' (like Amazon, Apple) great success with cloud based solutions has been a huge driver for the corporate acceptance of the concept. Nothing in these Microsoft ads makes a Cloud Computing industry or corporate buyer think of Azure, their cloud platform offering, which I see having immense potential. So, one assumes the target audience for the ads is consumers.
I think Jeff gives too much credit to Microsoft, thanking them for giving everyday meaning to users to make cloud a tangible benefit providing service. But, that is counter to the already stated fact that Apple, Amazon, FaceBook, etc. were what even Salesforce's go-to-market approach was driven by. So, in that case, Microsoft is offering too little, too late for the consumer cloud services business.
Almost nothing I see in the Microsoft cloud ads shows anything that is a specific service or feature or offering or value added solution from Microsoft. Or something they are not already familiar with. That is why I think Microsoft is doing itself a great disservice.
But, that is typical of Microsoft. When you don't understand something well enough, try to confuse everyone else. Maybe it is not intentional in the case of cloud. At least Microsoft did not completely miss the boat and then try to jump on board trying to become skipper of the cloud ship, like Larry Elison of Oracle.
Even AT&T's decade-old ads of "putting your kid to bed from a world away...." and "the company that will bring it to you, AT&T..." clearly showed the vision, and their attempt to stake a claim in the then-budding network based services future. They were touchy feely, but showed specific use-cases in a not-so-distant future. And they showed how the telecom network (a primary business of AT&T at that time) would be the carrier of such services. Not that I would trust AT&T (that shows Call Failed on my iPhone far too many time, even in areas showing full signal strength!).
Microsoft's ads for Cloud are not as lame as the Windows 7 ads I could not stand, where a dweeb (I hope that is not a dirty word) walks around the house describing things in Windows 7 that were "his idea" — yet were doable in Macs and even Windows PCs for years. But they neither serve the business audience with a clear compelling story, nor show anything that consumers can't already do.
So, what do I make of these Microsoft ads? Even while I am working at a cloud computing vendor focusing on private cloud, I feel Microsoft has huge potential to be a strong force in Cloud Computing with its Azure platform. But, it seems for now they have not completely figured out what to do, and how to do it. In the meantime, the poor marketing folks likely are under pressure to do something, air something, that shows Microsoft is committed to the cloud. Sorry guys, hate the ads, but, I've been through similar situations as you probably are in.
Even as a frequent Windows critic, I have to say the company is getting much better. Windows 7 is the first Windows OS I purchased with my own money even to run on my VMware Fusion and Parallels emulators as virtual machines rather than XP that I already had. While I could not stop laughing at the Zune, I marvel at how amazing Xbox is as a platform -- and how far behind Microsoft current consumer gadgetry king Apple is on the TV front.
I can curse at PowerPoint but I bought and love having the latest versions of Office on my Macs and Windows machines. If Apple ever thinks it can make a real play for the enterprise, all Microsoft has to do is pull the plug on Office for Mac. And, much that I love my MacBook Pros, Macs and OS X, the first thing I insisted on deploying in my CIO role was Microsoft's SharePoint --- when even the PC using techies reporting to me did not think it was a good platform. It really goes to show that Microsoft is starting to get it, and hence will be a strong competitor to any current leader. Just give it two or three years.
But here is the downside that I think Microsoft needs to be aware of. In typical fashion like many big companies with shallow understanding of disruptive market forces but deep pockets, their ads annoy those who know what Cloud is about, confuse those who don't know what Cloud is, and just enrich TV channels and an ad agency — with touchy-feely ads which mean nothing, today, or in the future.
That is just In My Humble Opinion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crossing The Bridge, Without Hitting Rock Bottom - IMRAN™

I am writing these words, and posting this photo, while visiting San Francisco, California.

This photo was taken just about 2 years ago, just 3 weeks before the passing away of my beloved Father in Pakistan.

A lot of difficult things were going on in my life, but I was not worried. I have always remembered the advice he gave me.

Prepare for the worst, but always Hope for the best.

I have therefore always believed in "crossing that bridge when I get to it" and knowing that life can always surprise you.

Even then, I had no idea on that day, as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, that my life would so quickly unravel.

A few weeks later, my Father was dead, gone forever, but living forever in my heart and memory. People who had seemed to be a part of my life showed their true colors, in my time of direst need, when an economic downturn led me to lose almost everything I had worked 21 years to get. But, other human beings, some good people, and some angels in disguise, continued to hover nearby with their love and support.

The next nearly 18 months were a surreal experience. I could be tempted to say, "It was a living hell"... but it was not.

Every day, every loss, every negative news, every lost opportunity, every closing door, every humbling experience, made me realize how very lucky I was, and am.

I realized that the worst day of that life was better than not being alive. The most difficult situation I faced was nothing compared to not having my health and abilities.

And, the roads were narrow and long, the lonely walks even to go get food, in snow and rain, were cold and brutal.

And the shaky, fog covered, rickety bridges, kept on appearing in the road ahead...

And I kept on.... as my father would have wanted.... as I knew no other way, and there was no other path, but ahead.

I kept crossing the bridge, but believing in God, even more, every passing day, that he would never let me ever experience, or feel, like I had hit Rock Bottom.

These rocks at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge are a poignant reminder of where I was and where I passed.

Te dark alleys of life I passed through in the last 2 years in the time after this photo was taken, the journey I am still on, and, at every step, confidently and boldly looking up at new horizons.... with my head bowed down in complete surrdener and gratitude. Thank You, God.

© 2008-2010 IMRAN

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sea(rch) Light, See Bright Sea Of Light, On Ocean Of Time Slipping By

Thank you all. My 26th Explore! October 29, 2010.

It appers no sooner has the morning sun appeared when we find out we have rushed through to the end of another magnificent day.

No sonner has a new year risen, that it is time to start preparing to bid it adieu.

This bright sea of light under a darkening but joyous red sky, at my home beach, on Long Island, NY, was taken on January 10, 2010. And, today, it is already coming to the end of October, 2010.

A bright, silent moment to reflect upon the silent majesty of our humble lives.

To step back, feeling the sand in our feet and sands of time sliding through our fingers.

To see how the cycle of a day that flashes by so quickly, suddenly becomes the passing of a lifetime.

Make the best of every minute, every moment.

Live every breath with every depth of soul you can muster.

See the bright sea of light that reminds us of todays gone and tomorrow around the horizon.

Until, if we are blessed, the last vision we have is a bright sea of light, a golden pathway opening before us, beckoning us, our souls, over the horizon, into the promise of the great unknown.

May we do the best we can when we are here. May God Bless our souls when we are gone.

© 2010 IMRAN