OSSPAC conference delegatesI had the pleasure of attending the Open Source Singapore Pacific-Asia COnference (or OSSPAC) held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore from Feb 16-18 2009. This inaugural event brings together the community businesses, developers government officials to experience first hand, the wide range of open systems and to promote the adoption of Open Source technologies across the entire Pacific-Asia region.

iN2015 and the Innovation Bazaar
The first keynote was by Dr Tan Geok Leng, also the CTO of iDA, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority. He talked about Singapore’s 10 year masterplan iN2015, which seeks to create an environment where technology innovation can take root, showcasing many programmes and initiatives that iDA brings to the marketplace to achieve this.

One of the trend observed by Dr Tan includes the rise of cloud computing. Cloud computing can mean different things to different people, but behind the cloud, the ability for the infrastructure to scale up or down, has been made easier by Open Source solutions. With Open Source, the cost savings makes such technology viable and more realistic.

Another trend highlighted was the commodization of mobile devices. These devices are becoming very price sensitive, and with the release of Google Android, and soon-to-be-open SymbianOS, will potentially lower cost and increase innovation.

Petabyte Computing in the Open Source World
The second keynote was by Rod Smith, VP Emerging Internet Technologies at IBM. He proposes that businesses today struggle to makes sense of the volume of data, which Forrester reported in a 2008 report, was doubling every three years. This data is a potential goldmine of business insights and intelligence.

Enabling this massive amount of data to be sliced and diced for business insights is a challenge. Databases are great when users know what they are looking for, but not so if users are trying to discover business opportunities.

Innovative products like Apache’s Hadoop has helped IBM in processing huge amount of data. Hadoop provides a framework for large scale processing which offers simplicity in deployment but power in scalability.

Rod demostrated an interesting project IBM worked on with BBC to crawl content from the uk parlimentary site, and to gain insights into the various parliamentary Bills.

The Magic of Infinity: How abundance drives Innovation and Economics
The third keynote was presented by Harish Pillay, Open Source Evangelist at Redhat. He postulated that if there was abundance instead of scarcity – for example, lack of budget, resources and time – the ability to innovate is limitless.

This is none more apparent in the Open Source world. According to a study published by Linux Foundation, it estimated that it would take an organisation 25 years, 59 thousand man-years and $10 billion to develop Fedora 9, which in the old-school value chain would have been impossible. But, Open Source makes it possible, which succeeds in participation, sharing and becoming innovative.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to attend the fourth keynote by Han Wen Kan from Novell. All in all, the three keynotes I sat through were insightful and lays a good foundation to the start of the conference.