IEEE Conference – Part 1: Sorry, I can’t give you that number!

“Sorry, I can’t give you that number!” – this was the response given to my question by the Google Director of Cloud Computing in front of 300+ audience. What was my question? Please wait till the end of this article (or if you are very curious, skip to the endJ).

Indeed, stars are within reach


Fig: With Grady Booch, one of the greatest engineers of our times

Today early morning me and Laura Fang car pooled together to go to Computer Museum in Mountain View, CA. This is where IEEE’s “Rock Stars of Big Data” conference was happening. We didn’t expect the traffic in the 680 highway and we were delayed by 30 minutes. Conference started at 8:30am and we reached their only by 9:00am. When we were entering Grady Booch was speaking. Booch is one of the greatest engineers of our times and my all-time favorite author. He is the one who developed UML (Unified Modeling Language), which is a foundation for several software engineering courses in the country. He has played a significant part in shaping the engineer in me. He was always a star in the sky to me. I couldn’t believe that he was in a reachable distance to me.

During the break I walked to him and told how much I admire him since my school days. He was pleased and gracefully accepted to take photograph with me.

Sleeping Billionaire


Fig: Billionaire who was sitting next to me, when he was half asleep.

At the end of the day, one of the speaker put several of us to sleep. Old Gentlemen sitting next to me was one of them. I asked him where he works. He told he no more works. He was 12 years earlier than Bill Gates in inventing personnel computer (called as DEC or something like that), he sold that company for billion dollars at the age of 33. After that point he stopped working and started to invest on cutting edge technology companies. One thing that I observed was: he was meticulously taking notes in the traditional yellow notepad and pen. I think he should have taken notes at least for 30 – 40 pages. Lazy/poor guy like me was taking photographs of the slides from my iPad. In last week’s CNN interview Warren Buffett showed his mobile phone. It was 6 – 7 years old phone; it wasn’t even a smart phone. It seems like Warren Buffet has sent email by himself only once. I told to myself – “Probably multi-billionaires are still low tech”.

Health Care


When the Kaiser Permanente’s (leading hospital/health care provider) Director of Analysis – Michael S. Johnson was speaking – he showed the above interesting slide. According to a major study, our health is determined by the following factors:

  1. Environmental and Social Factors – 20%
  2. Personal Behaviours – 40%
  3. Family History & Genetics – 30%
  4. Medical Care – 10%

It was eye opener for me. Multi-billion dollar Medical Care Systems account only for 10% of our health (sad).

Sorry, I can’t give you that number


Fig: Google Data Center in the slide, and Director Dan Sturman standing.

The last presentation of the day was from Google’s Director of Cloud computing: Dan Sturman. It was an interesting presentation. During the presentation he mentioned that he tries to keep all the Google servers at 100% CPU utilization. I was surprised by that comment. When he opened up for Q&A, I was the first one to raise my hand and ask the question: When there is a natural catastrophe in a particular data center, then that data center’s traffic has to be routed to alternate data center. In such circumstance if alternate data center is already running at 100% CPU utilization, how it can handle the failed data center’s traffic. He told it was flip in his talk and admitted that servers have enough space to handle the faltered data center’s traffic. Then I raised subsequent question: “In a normal scenario (i.e. when there is no failover), what is the CPU utilization in your servers?” This is the question which yielded the answer mentioned in the introduction.

Note: You might wonder why I haven’t talked about any technical details in this article. I will write Part-2 in another 24 hours.

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