The End of an Era

Software developers, I've got one word for you:

That's right.  Your job is going to India, princess.  Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.



It's a fascinating thing to watch children grow up.  There are stages in life where their ignorance is an amusing reminder of our own.  Every child goes through a phase where they think you can't see them because they're covering their own eyes.  “It sure is dark around here!  I bet no one sees me.”

It's the same with outsourcing.  Sure, you read about it in the press.  Alarmist titles like, well, “Your Job Is Going to India!”  Or, “America -- Land of the Ji, Home of the Knave.”

For those of you playing along in the home game, Ji (“gee!”) is a Hindi word that's a title of respect.  So, instead of Sir Charles Barkley, you might say Barkley-ji.  A native of India is far more likely to say Gandhi-ji, of course, unless it's their fourth Guinness.

But no one I talk to in everyday life seems to take it seriously.  We're like kids covering our own eyes, ignorant of our impending doom.

Your job is going to India.  Period.  Well, semi-colon.  It could go to China.  Or Borneo.  But India's most likely.  Let me count the ways:

  1. They’re cheap.  Everyone focuses on this.  After all, eight developers for the price of one is hard to argue with -- it’s a veritable Wal-Mart of developers over there.  A three-hour cab ride from Mumbai to Pune is $25.  I don’t think a cab in Manhattan would even slow down for you for that little.

  2. They're brilliant.  I can't believe the amount of time I spend debating this with otherwise rational people.  “Americans are creative!  We invented the computer!  Heck, we invented C++!  Java!  C#!  Oh, and did I mention Logo?  Or the mind-numbingly lame ML?  Let's see Hindustan match THAT!”

    1. Puh-LEASE!  Americans are awesome at inventing technology and then being overtaken by other countries with more efficient production.  Cars.  Radios.  Air Jordans.  You name it.  (And please don’t be the one person who inevitably writes in arguing that American cars are engineered better than Japanese ones.  Don’t be that person.  Not today.)

    2. And just think about the sheer odds against us!  The US produces about 1.3 million college graduates a year, from a population of 290 million.  India graduates 3.1 million college students a year, culled from a population of 1.07 billion.  They’re far more selective.  Just the raw number of graduates is daunting!  As if that’s not enough, more than half of them are working the local Hyderabad Starbucks waiting to be discovered.  It’s as close to a geek L.A. as it gets!

  3. They're entrepreneurial.  Americans have traditionally been entrepreneurial, an advantage we’ve long enjoyed over many other cultures when it comes to capitalism.  But India’s different.  In general, Indian culture accepts entrepreneurial risk-taking much like the US.  This is one of the main reasons outsourcing is so hot there.

  4. They speak English.  I’m bracing myself for the deluge of comments griping about Dell tech support.  You’re missing the point.  We’re not talking about tech support.  We’re not even talking about talking.  These are coders we’re talking about -- room full of socially awkward youngsters, fridge full of Mountain Dews, the works.  But they can code in English.  Compile in English.  Bid your next contract $3 million dollars lower, in English.

  5. They’re learning.  This is the thing:  even if you believe that India is currently not as good at software as the US, they’re learning from American-trained developers.  Every year gobs of senior developers and software managers return to India from Microsoft alone.  I know these people!  I’ve worked with them! They’re great managers, and they will train a generation of highly capable Indian software developers.  And don’t even get me started on just how motivated these young Indian graduates become when they’re chosen as part of the elite few to join a software company.  It’s like they’ve hit the jackpot in Powerball Calcutta.  You don’t know the meaning of motivation until you’ve paid a 22-year-old a bajillion dollars in local currency, contingent on his continued stellar performance.

Microsoft’s India Development Center (IDC) is growing like gangbusters – it’s like they can’t buy enough of Hyderabad.  One of IDC’s main goals is to replicate the successful software development model of the Redmond campus.  And Microsoft’s just one example – everybody’s doing this.  The 2.3 IT companies that aren’t are going to start next month.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  And prepare to train your replacement on your way out.

Don’t cover your own eyes.  Your job is going to India.


What Will Really Happen

I’ve exaggerated a little.  Not all of us will lose our jobs, of course.  Just most of us.  Those left behind will have much lower salaries.  The math is simple – the inevitability, manifest.  You can choose to deny it or try to defy it, but it doesn’t make the laws of supply and demand any less true.

Most people think that they are paid (or should be paid) the value of their contributions to a company.  This leads to whiny dribble I sometimes hear from Microsofties about how a portion of Microsoft’s $53 billion cash should be paid to the people who helped create that value (inevitably, they feel they’ve personally created a few millions’ worth).  I totally agree with the spirit of that utopian dream – it’s a noble ideal that you should be rewarded according to the value you add to a company.  It appeals to our inner sense of fairness.  But the reality is that you’re paid your replacement cost.  You are paid what it would cost the company to find another person who could add just as much value.  So, in general:

developer.paycheck = min(developer.valueAdd, developer.replacementCost)

I’m not saying this is a good thing.  I’m not saying this is a right thing.  I’m saying this is a capitalistic thing.  And I’m saying this is the truth.  The equation of our capitalistic software development economy is getting cheap professionals added to it annually by the truckload.  You bet this is going to hit your salary.


Brace For Impact

This is all fine and dandy, but it’s also horribly depressing.  Stay tuned – next week, I’ll cover things you can do to brace for impact.  For the pessimists:  it’ll be a futile attempt to avoid certain doom.  For the optimists:  it’ll be a positive piece that will give you practical guidance and imbue you with hope.

Don’t ignore the issue.  You need to prepare yourself.

Comments (62)
  1. John Smith says:

    Don’t spread panic. Don’t exaggerate.

    Instead do a little research about horrors of outsourcing (Google will do). It’s never black nor white.

    The outsourcing could easily become a new bubble; perhaps you can make cheap and quality Nike shoes elsewhere but you can’t make cheap and high-quality software (or you can?).

    And finally, Indians (or any other nation for that matter) are not more brilliant than others: it’s just that, statistically, a 1+ billion people nation has more smart people than others.

  2. "a 1+ billion people nation has more smart people than others"

    Sounds fair to me.

    Oh and BTW, It’s the global economy, stupid –

  3. Chad Myers says:

    I’m tired of the chicken littles. So far, everyone I’ve talked to that’s related with an India, Brazil, or China project says it’s a complete disaster. Their code sucks, no documentation, their English is horrible.

    The companies that offshore end up having to hire back many of their American developers (not 100%, I admit) to clean up and fix all the crap coming out of India.

    The real reason to worry about India, Brazil and China is that stupid, clueless, magazine-reading CIOs are jumping guns and pulling triggers without studying anything about the impact of such decisions. I’m afraid this is some kind of bubble that’s going to pop in a year or two.

    Companies like Dell, IBM, GE, etc think they’re so smart by saving money, but when their quality goes to nil and people stop buying their products, it’ll hit them very hard where it counts.

    Already, these and other companies have taken huge beatings below the belt on off-short customer support. If these people can’t reliably deliver customer support, how do we expect them to write complicated software using the latest technology? The answer: We shouldn’t, but stupid CIOs are and that worries me.

    The development problem is more latent because customers don’t experience the problem firsthand. Customers will experience the problem in a few months or years as the software that India, et al are producing starts going live (if it ever does).

    Eventually, there will be a backlash. Many jobs will stay in India because there are a few competent people over there (so I’m told, I’ve never met any and I’ve dealt with several dozen of them) and because there are so many fake developers here in the US (guys who read Java-in-21-days and expect to get paid 80,000/yr).

    So basically what’s ACTUALLY going to happen is not complete attrition, but culling of the weak and leave us with much better developers supported by junior-or-less level teams in India, China, Brazil, etc.

    There’s one wildcard, IMHO: Russia. So far, about half the projects I know using Russian developers are experiencing some (limited) success as opposed to complete failure.

  4. Chad Myers says:

    One more thing, sorry…

    Another thing I think you’re going to see that many expect, but no one wants to talk about is that software is becoming more and more integrated into every aspect of our lives.

    Eventually, software will have to become as solid as bridges or skyscrapers because peoples’ lives will depend on it.

    This means that software developers will have to go through lots of education and obtain (real) certifications from the state or some other accrediting body.

    Software will stop becoming fun to write because you know that if you add that feature, you better be prepared to review it with 5 other developers and run it through various standard tests because someone’s life could depend on it.

  5. kurbli says:

    Satyam Computer Services Ltd. from Hyderabad planning a software center in Hungary in this year. (10 million people). Why?

    Source in hungarian:

  6. Quality, like most other things can be managed. I have done a outsourced project recently with good amount of success so far – The model was something like this – Keep all planning, monitoring and management work onshore with a mix of people local and Indian. Send all development and QA work to offshore (India) AND most importantly award development work to one Indian company (happened to be my company) and QA work to that’s company’s biggest competitor. It worked very well – so well that you will not be able to differentiate whether an American coded for it or an Indian. The cost was still very low compared to doing the whole stuff at onshore, with local people and local rates. And no – none of the things Chad Myers mention is true or will continue to be true wrt Indian programmers – Our English is not bad, we can write excellent code and comments – you name it. We have enough talented people just lacking the motivation. Provide that in terms of lumps of Indian currency (which is 45 times less $$s) and we can do anything at any quality.

  7. Eric Lippert says:

    First off, I don’t see what’s so lame about ML — it has a great type inferencing system, amongst other nice features.

    But more generally, sure, there will be changes in the industry as new players come online. The global economy will continue to be volatile, blah blah blah. There will be pain all around, no doubt about it.

    I buy that part. But I don’t buy your whole argument. You’re looking at the short term and you’re looking only at the supply side of supply and demand.

    Look to the long term. Either the hype is false — India really does NOT produce great software for less. In which case, they’ll fail and continue to be mired in poverty. Which sucks for them, but we keep our jobs.

    Or it’s true. India produces great software, makes the transition to a knowledge economy, and their standard of living goes way up. Their real wages go up. And then we can _buy and sell_ great software from/to India in a highly competitive market that benefits consumers.

    I want a higher standard of living for India, I want more competition in the software industry, and CERTAINLY want more smart people developing the next generation of software tools sooner rather than later.

    Really, here’s the thing — the whole "us vs them" fear is based on a scarcity model. That demand for software is a zero sum game, where someone else’s win is my loss. I don’t buy it. There will never be too many smart people on the earth. There will never be a lack of problems that can be solved creatively with software that people will pay for.

    Am I saying that supply and demand doesn’t apply? No. More smart people willing to work for less makes today’s hard problems more shallow, certainly. It resets the bar, but since there’s an infinite supply of harder problems waiting for us, I’m not worried about running out any time soon. We solve the hard problems here –= that’s what we do best.

    Will there be downward pressure on paycheques? Sure, for a while. I never expected to get rich from software — I do it because I love it. If I’d wanted to get rich, I’d have studied plumbing.

    I have absolutely no doubt that India isn’t a threat, it’s an opportunity. An opportunity that will cause a lot of pain in the short term, sure. But a huge benefit for humanity as a whole. Go India!

  8. Ben says:

    I totally agree with Eric. It is simple math. Most of the creative and innovative work is still going to remain in US. Most of the stuff which is going to India is testing and QA.

    What that can mean for us is that we can focus more on ideas and innovate faster and compete better in this industry. It is afterall about better ideas right?

    It is a world of competition and for Microsoft to continue leading the software industry, they have to use all the help they can.

    If people like Chad are scared it is probably they dont want to compete,learn and grow further and are just waiting for retirement and collect there million dollars, go on a cruise or whatever !!

    Go world !


  9. Dr. Dre says:

    Hey Chad, I didn’t knew you were such a cry baby πŸ™‚ Grow up and face the reality of the times dude. Outsourcing hurts yeah. I lost my job to it 7 months back but that’s competition, and its survival of the fittest. Look at it from the other end, I now run my own consulting firm and I ALSO OUTSOURCE! Why? Because that’s business sense. I sure save money, but keeping the quality of the final product is more important for me. So stop whining and start writing some kick ass code πŸ™‚ Or that IIT grad will kick you lazy butt πŸ˜‰

  10. Eric Lippert says:

    At first it’ll be the boring testing and support jobs that get outsourced. But Philip is right — eventually they’ll be designing and implementing high end developer tools like we write here at MSFT.

    Super. If they’re good quality tools available at low, low prices then humans worldwide will buy them and use them to make more great software, and drive further adoption of the platform. I’m pro that.

  11. David Shaw says:

    In reading this article, at first I laughed. "Of course my job isn’t going to India". Of course, then I realized that you’re mostly correct. It’s a scary thought, I have to say.

  12. Bill says:

    The real blindness is that people think this is about software developers. It’s not. It’s about globalization of services. Therefore it’s not just the software jobs that will go overseas, it’ll be all the service jobs that don’t involve direct hand-on involvement (like plumbing and construction). We’re only seeing first little wave so far.

  13. "This is all fine and dandy, but it’s also horribly depressing"

    Why is it horribly depressing? Why would I be depressed that there are skilled, capable, intelligent people getting jobs in the world?

    It sounds like insecurity to me. If you’re worried about your job getting cut because someone can do it better and cheaper, then it’s irrelevant if that person is from this country or another. The fact remains that there is competition and you will have to deal with it.

    If you’re not good enough, then accept what you get. If you dont’ want that to happen then work your ass off to prove to your employer that you are worth what they’re spending on you.

    Having a cushy job with a great salary is not a right, it’s something earned. It’s not a guaranteed part of being a citizen of any country and I find it baffling that this tone of voice implies that it is.

  14. drebin says:

    Seems to me, that there is an ebb and flow to everything (conservative to liberal to conservative to liberal for example in politics)..

    So let’s talk about oursourcing in general. A manager says "Hmm, I can save money by outsourcing – let’s do it!".. then everyone gets laid off.. meanwhile (especially with the India fiasco) – you have timezone problems, quality issues, communication problems and you can’t be in the same room to scream at someone. So the boss says "Damn, I wish I could just lean on this person the way I used to.. I wish they worked in this office. Hey! Wait, I could just hire people here! I mean sure, it might cost a little more – but it’s worth it for the quality and the direct control I’ll have!!!"..

    and on and on the cycle goes.

    So the reason people like me don’t take it seriously, is that it doesn’t matter. Any U.S. company that does outsource to India is either going to have a sub-par product and not care, or they will swing back. And nothing against India (although I do think there are major quality issues – on the whole) – but it’d the same everywhere. You can get good results when you don’t have direct affect on someone and when the other person is allowed to not be accountable. Imagine if your boss was in India!! πŸ™‚

  15. Dennis Forbes says:

    Is this before or after Japan, that up and coming economic powerhouse, takes over, as was widely predicted in the mid 80s.

    Of course I do think the software development profession is going to experience significant shrinkage, but I think the outsourcing phenomena is a symptom and not the cause — most organizations are running out of problems to be solved by custom software, and the near-zero-duplication cost allows a few vendors with a few products to fill a large part of industry’s needs. How many corporate projects were rendered unnecessary by Biztalk or Sharepoint, for instance. Very large industry sectors, such as insurance, that once prided themselves on strategic advantages through custom administration system, are centralizing on common platforms. The diversity of software in the world is collapsing.

    The point is that every Indian eagerly jumping on this new software bandwagon has come to the party a little late, and most of your projects are under-funded hanger-ons that have snuck by the budget review.

  16. Michael says:

    Yes, all the above is true – but I’ll put my 25+ years experience up against any of these young kids out of Bangalore any day. There are some things school just can’t teach you.

  17. Dennis Forbes says:

    As a sidenote, Indian comp sci majors might want to consider something like genetics / chemistry, as medicine will be the teat for the next several decades.

  18. silent majority says:

    always the little people. Why not outsource Bill Gates, Larry Elison and Scott McNealy’s jobs. Bend those people over once.

  19. sebmol says:

    Why do people rob banks? Because that’s where the money’s at–if India is where the jobs are, go to India and work there. Nobody ever guaranteed you a living anywhere. What makes you think now that you have some god/government given right to a secure job? If India (or China or wherever) really become the places to be for software developers, off I go. Take your whole family, if you have one. That will give your kids a great global perspective.

    In the long run, global trade is great for everybody. As more work moves to India, their standard of living will rise and so will the demand for everything including software and luxury items. You act like there’s nothing to be gained from global trade on this side of the globe.

  20. Dennis Forbes says:

    Oh, one more quibble – the Indian university system is hardly "far more selective": Only a select strata of the civilization has the opportunity to even think of an advanced education, if even a basic education.

    It’s also interesting to consider the fact that of the graduates the US pumps out, the vast majority work on technology or products that are domestically focused: Making a new super-super sized fry container, or a 7-blade rotating vibro razor. The "focus on the US" economy of India is highly volatile and short term.

  21. A says:

    These facts were recently published in a German Magazine which deals with WORLD HISTORY.

    a.India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.

    b. India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.

    c. The World’s first university was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studies more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

    d. Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software – a report in Forbes magazine, July 1987.

    e. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.

    f. Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of British invasion in the early 17th Century.

    g. The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit ‘Nou’.

    h. Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. Time taken by earth to orbit the sun:(5th century)365.258756484 days.

    i. The value of "pi" was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.

    j. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10**53(10 to the power of (53) with specific names as early as 5000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera 10**12(10 to the power of 12).

    k. According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source for diamonds to the world.

    l. USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century old suspicion in the world scientific community that the pioneer of wireless communication was Prof. Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.

    m. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.

    n. According to Saka King Rudradaman I of 150 CE a beautiful lake called ‘Sudarshana’ was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya’s time.

    o. Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.

    p. Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India. Over 125 surgical equipment were used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.

    q. When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley(Indus Valley Civilization)

    r. The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.


    a. Albert Einstein said: We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worth while scientific discovery could have been made.

    b. Mark Twain said: India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most

    constructive materials in the history of mankind are treasured up in India only.

    c. French scholar Romain Rolland said: If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.

    d. Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA said: India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.

    All the above is just the TIP of the iceberg, the list could be endless. BUT, if we don’t see even a glimpse of that great India in the India that we see today, it clearly means that we are not working up to our potential.

  22. ReadThisLoud_ImChicken! says:

    It’s weird reading all these comments. None of you (from what I assume) have been to India (not that I’m selling you a deal) but still you guys know so much about India and the people. Well, let me tell you something. You know NOTHING! What you hear, read or see on TV is hardly the facts. The fact is that India is racing to become a world superpower (not just in IT I should add). Look up a bit: both Bill Clinton and Bill Gates made this remark (about India being a world superpower in the next 20 years) in the recent past. Just walk down any Indian city, you’ll feel the vibe that people are working towards a "new generation". China and India are both growing at a much higher rate than any other economy at the present time. They have no shortage of man-power and definetly no shortage of world investment. Infact, India has been voted as the best country in the world for foreign investors by Newsweek.

    Atleast an Indian dude may have experienced both sides of the world but you are just looking at it from your own viewpoint. That’s not open mindedness smart people. So stop cribbing and start looking at things objectively. Instead of wasting your time on these blogs, start enhancing your skill-set and be prepared for the worst :)) Yes, your job is going to India (or China or Russia or Israel …)!!!

  23. John Doe says:

    Is my Job going because I’m a raciest lazy bum πŸ™

  24. Roshan James says:

    Admittedly this is a sensitive topic. I work (atleast worked till yesterday to be precise) in one the companies where outsourcing was the central model.

    I must say – we really do a pretty good job. Honest. Like in all groups and communities there will always be a few who maynot deliver, but in general there are a lot of places that have no issues with the quality of the deliverables.

    I can guess how hard the outsourcing attitude might be hitting the the software industry in US. But I just wanted to add another perspective (if I am not going to be shot down for it). In our country we have always faced this kind of a situations, where there is a external producer who comes to our economy with better products, manufactured more economically and has simply come along and wiped out parts of the trdaitional economics. Industries like fisheris, indigenous rubber etc had been hit several times – these sort of things happen whenever there is a climate of chnage in won part of the world and others were looking some other way.

    But at the end of the day I believe that there are a lot of brilliant people around the world, esp in the US and personally to many of us the guys who built first computers and C++ and Java and C# and Windows and … (never ending list of items processed by lazy envulation in ML) are heroes. I am sure the smart folk in the US will find ways where they fit in well and compete in the new emerging software ecosystem.

    Like someone on this blog said – I think in the short term it maybe percieved as a hit, but in the long term it would be an oppurtunity.

  25. Tarun Anand says:

    Well, very interesting article… I spent 8 years in US of which many were at Microsoft Redmond, and then returned to work for Microsoft India and have quit recently. I don’t agree that there aren’t smart people in India. There are smart people everywhere… To me it boils down to 2 simple facts

    (1) There are smart people in India (or returning to India) who can do a good job.

    (2) The world’s biggest markets are going to be India, China, Russia, et. al. So, if you believe that development should be done close to the customers then it will be…

    Well, whatever the result… I am enjoying the fact that software industry has given me the opportunity to return to my country. I have started a company to show prove naysayers wrong that India cannot produce quality code πŸ™‚


  26. Tarun Anand says:

    BTW: If you are looking for smart developers, come and talk to me..

    If you are a smart developer, come and join me πŸ™‚

  27. local industry can only benefit if the global industry does.. and any argument against global trade can be given a reality check of Great Depression, The South East Asian Crisis and SARS!!

    in the times i have visited US, i have admired citizen’s there who take so much pride in what they do! with didactics like these that impression is slowly getting replaced by sense of insecurity (inherent in all but controlling in only a few)!

    from economic perspective, IT is a commodity now…. and any commodity is better moved to a low cost production model.. the thought in india is to move up the value chain and not just take care of the commodity business.. i think all countries should be thinking of their strategic advantages.. low cost production is definitely not an advantage that US holds.. for india, where population was once a curse, is now a blessing where you can find as many people as you want and distribution of intelligence is not contigent on geography at all..

    if the economists in any country can find the next value proposition for the world and politicians focus on that single value, any country could be great.. true for US as well.. the car industry boom, the PC boom.. each created something that was for the benefit of the world and then it was time for new innovation..

    are jobs going anywhere from US? yes they are to nations with low cost models.

    does it make sense to mull over the past or does it make MORE sense to be looking at what is the next BIG idea?

  28. Jonathan from 5th Floor says:

    BTW, is this blog about .NET at all. I don’t see anything on this blog slightly related to .NET. Just some PR and marketing bull. Better not include such worthless posts in the main RSS feed.

  29. drebin says:

    I should clarify what I wrote.. when I said I have issues with the quality from Indian developers.. it seems to me, there are good and bad developers everywhere. The US could start a craze of "we can have an army of developers for $15/hour each!" Well – that’s because those are the bad developers – good ones are still going to cost you a lot more.

    So the quality hit that India is taking is, it seems they have such outrageously low wage rates because they are hiring the not-so-bright.. Which we could here too!!

    I would wager that a really good Indian developer is probably going to be pretty expensive, same way it is here..

  30. Dennis Forbes says:

    Wow, apparently an Indian outsourcer caught wind of this thread and decided to flood it (I especially love the revisionist "Indians invented everything" history as of late). The outsourcers, making billions as the middleman, has been a flagrant astroturfer over the past year or so as the "infinite growth!" industry sputters.

  31. Dennis Forbes Sr. says:

    @drebin – "The US could start a craze of "we can have an army of developers for $15/hour each!" Well – that’s because those are the bad developers – good ones are still going to cost you a lot more."

    Thats the whole point … its time to re-evaluate the so called rate scale. If the so called "good developers" are alyways going to be expensive then for most of them its going to be ""! Get this off your mind that quality will always be expensive. Its high-time with some stiff competition (and negligible quality hit from my personal experience) so we must not be resiliant to change. Resistance is futile and the weak will be assimilated! That’s geek talk for – change or time will make you.

  32. drebin says:

    That’s one viewpoint.. to me, my value has always been that I can write good, maintable and scalable code – and quickly. That is the definition of "quality".

    So you can either hire me for X per hour for 10 hours and have good code – or you can hire a bad developers for N/2 for 30 hours, have probably a worse interface, unmaintainable and non-scalable code.

    (X * 10) > ((N/2) * 30)

    Value is value. I can get the bill rate I do, because in the big picture – I SAVE THE COMPANY MONEY! So long as I still hold that value, I will always find work.

  33. David says:

    "Or it’s true. India produces great software, makes the transition to a knowledge economy, and their standard of living goes way up. Their real wages go up. And then we can _buy and sell_ great software from/to India in a highly competitive market that benefits consumers."

    Except that the "we" in that last sentence isn’t "we outsourced software developers," it’s "we corporate owners/shareholders." It doesn’t help Joe Outsourced if Susie Stockholder makes another million dollars.

  34. How does it matter? says:

    It is so stupid to mention that India has "wal-mart’ of developers. It’s not true anymore to say that one developer in US = 8 developers in India. The wages for the IT folks in India is very good and increasing day by day. Companies are not going to India anymore just for cheap labor, it is about the quality of graduates, the experienced professional who can work hard and execute well. Did I make that clear?

  35. Chad Myers says:

    People call me scared, it’s actually the opposite. The original blog poster is scared. These are the chicken-littles. I’m the opposite of scared. I’m confident that off-shore will not be the end of the software industry and the thing that makes programmers have to work for $20-30K salaris in the US.

    Everyone around me seems to be throwing up their hands and giving up. They see 3 articles talking about how Company A, B, and C are moving 80%+ of their development and QA off-short, but they ignore the 5 articles talking about how IBM, Dell, and several other companies had to abandon Indian and Chinese customer support efforts because the had abysmal customer satisfaction.

    Likewise, I’m seeing that Dell, IBM, and severla other companies are experiencing terrible side effects from off-shorting and productivity is nil at this point. They are suffocating because of off-shoring because some CIO thought he’d be smart and save a few bucks but didn’t so his homework.

    Software isn’t a commodity and probably never will be. These CIOs and CEOs are trained in Harvard School fo Business which teaches them all about commodities, unions, manufacturing… things which involve very little creativity and are merely numbers games and are mostly predictable.

    Software quality is not predictable. It’s still mostly art. Eventually it’ll become more and more predictable with things like Agile and XP mothodologies, but there’s still lots of creativity.

    India is investing heavily in it’s technology sector and it’s catching up, but I’m not throwing my hands up because I know America will always be one step ahead.

    The Japanese automobile "problem" in the 80’s was way worse than this. Many more millions of jobs were on the line and we came through really good. Most of the Japanese automakers moved production to America because they simply couldn’t achieve the kind of production volume that was necessary in Japan.

    Sure, software is different than manufacturing, but an equalibrium will be found, most good, smart, and productive developers will remain employed and India will profit and their standard of living will raise and everyone will be better for it.

    People twist my words to make it sound like I think Indians are incapable of quality software. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, very few people are capable of producing quality software. I know many Americans that are programmers and are worthless. In India, I’m sure they have the same ratio of good-to-bad developers, it’s just that there are way more of both and the good developers aren’t as well trained and don’t have as much experience because the market is still young there.

    10 years from now, this will be slightly better and in 20, it’ll be similar to what America is like today (weathered veterans, senior architects, etc).

    But where will America be? That’s the question.

    Most of the chicken littles (even in this very comment thread) believe we’ll be tets up with nothing to show for it.

    I, on the other hand, believe in the resiliency of the American people and our motivation and I think we’ll be much farther ahead.

    Everyone wins rather than just India wins, that’s my point.

  36. drebin says:

    Chad – excellent post! That’s probably the most key thing in this thread – that software development is not a commodity, and outsourcing only works with things that are a commodity. Good one..

  37. Anupam Jain says:


    I am a student from India.

    Just passed out B.Tech (Information Technology) with 80.1 %, standing 6th in my university and now going in for my Masters next week to the University Of Southern California, Los Angeles.

    From what I gather from the entire discussion, I would really like to put in my 2 cents :

    * If a developed country is moving over towards a developing country for "getting it’s job done" there has to be a prime reason for that. Cheap labour, is ofcourse the issue but one thing that I think (as a student here) that is of prime significance is the attitide of Indians towards technology. Just drop in sometime in my college or walk down the Indian campuses. Here people are passionate (even mad) about technology. So am I.

    In April this year, when I was delivering a seminar to an audience of 2000 people as a Microsoft Imagine Cup National Finalist in Bangalore, it was an exciting experience for me to interact with a crowd full of enthusiasm, curiosity, zeal,fanaticism and to top it all "passion". People here are crazy. They would bunk classes, spend sleepless nights just to find out what the new technology can do for them. I remember when me and my batchmate worked for 6 hours (night to morning)non-stop on an I.Q problem that my professor at college challenged us to do and finally cracked it. I remember how many of my friends spent weeks just in finding out the security vulnerabilites in Windows 2000 as soon it arrived.

    Economies would change…Trends may vary….but the passion here would never die..and is increasing exponentially…

    But on the other hand…

    As a Microsoft Student Ambassador I have been corresponding with a lot of Americans till now (mainly from California). And I must say these are terrific people. They would go out of their way to help me out.They ‘too’ are geeky and ‘passionate’ about technology.

    But then one thing I really fail to understand…

    Why after all is there a dividing line ?

    Why’s Silicon Valley full of Indians ?

    Why are people hiring more Indians ?

    Apart from cheap labor I like how Tarun puts it – here we have one of the biggest markets…so people like to build their product with-and-close to the customer.

    But probably apart from all this there has to be a very ‘major’ reason behind this shift…that I would like to find out when I ‘grow up’

  38. Jon H says:

    I think Indian development jobs and training should be opened up to the vast untouchable caste, members of which have little or no chance of getting such work.

    That’d probably drop wages down to $1/day.

    I’d bet there are millions of potential genius developers among them.

  39. Talk about repeating history. The tech industry will learn the lessons GM did in the 80s, it looks good on paper, but fraught with logistical and other coordinational problems. Look to Quark for an example of what happens when the Development process is turned over to hired hands. GM learned it in the Mexico move, Tech Industry, ever slow to catch onto the large macroeconomic picture and doing the short-term fix, will learn it later. And these things, have an end-game. Indian culture accepts entrepreneurial risk-taking? I fully disagree. It’s a socialist hotbed. Exporting the brain-drain is what got them on map.

    And not that being snipy, but something I have found rather interesting…all these Tablet team bloggers and no one ever talks about Tablets, well Evan sorta, but that’s a weak case. Tablets just not all that interesting to people on the Tablet team? Where’s the passion?

  40. More on the central topic at hand…

    Want to work with India? Only entrance is via the wholly burecratic ‘pay-off-styled’ Foreign Investment Promotion Board, with heavy industrial licensing and labor regulations and serious employment controls with trade-regime high tariffs and extensive export controls…all run by the left-wing Congress Party, with extreme Left and Communist alliances, hold-overs from the 50s and 60s era. Indian culture accepts entrepreneurial risk-taking? Not even close. An even casual look at India’s history shows an complete aversion to all things captialism, and a tendency to view such market-driven economic methods as impractical for the needs of a large populated county. Why American companies are flocking has nothing to do with entrepreneurial risk-taking, and everything to do with cheap educated labor, but saving on labor costs, is never the whole picture, that’s shortsighted quick-fix.

    And its not that one group of programmers is smarter, its how well do you understand the nature of company, certain experiences and business process and other management formulations just can’t be coded in. Not to mention the extra time and effort spent dealing with teams halfway around the world. I know many companies that tire of application design meetings at 5 a.m. πŸ™‚

  41. Hanson says:

    Ha ha ha! Microsoft is outsourcing some of the work related to its next-generation operating system (Longhorn) to India, according to a labor group …

  42. Christopher Coulter – While you are still in 50s – 60s, India has moved far ahead! Think, do some research and then see if there is little truth in what you wrote. India bashing isn’t going to solve any problem. If all Indians stopped accepting outsourced work after bowing to the General American belief that Indians are extremely poor developers, capable of doing next to nothing, work will then be outsourced to Phillipines, China or Somalia even before you had a chance to be happy.

    Buy any hardware in the US and flip it to see where it is manufactured – China? Taiwan? It’s already happened – and people have moved on. If you are going to ask for arbitrarily higher cost for quality which adds no real value, nobody is going to buy that stuff. Put yourself in buyer’s shoes – Will you buy an iPod (BTW mine was manufactured in China) if it was priced $10000 and Apple guaranteed it will last till your life and will get better everyday? No sane person will.

    Get over it. Even Indians stand to loose outsourced business to other more cheaper possibilities. We too, will get over it. It’s not hard to understand this simple math.

  43. drebin says:

    Simple math? I thought we covered that already!!

  44. Parag Warudkar says:

    drebin – We covered it, yes. Any one glancing at this whole thread can tell, nothing particularly funny abt it. I was sort of re-emphasizing it (since some people didn’t seem to understand the math well) – that it’s not hard, please understand and for heaven’s sake stop India bashing – It looks complete non-sense.

  45. The End of an Era This guy speaks his mind….

  46. The assumptions all rest on lack of demand, as well as slowing pace going forward by which new markets, products, and scenarios are created and mature (how developed are mobile applications and web services, EAI, VOIP-based applications today), many of which as of now is at its infancy. There’s plenty of opportunity to be found, just waiting for the infrastructures, business models, and technology pillars to converge before the industry and societies can jumps to the next level of innovation, in part engendering the high-margin ISV/softwareeconomics we all love and want.

    If that’s not enough, consider the macroeconomic/demographic angle: Business 2.0 in September 2003 reported that executives at major companies – including global staffing firm Adecco Group, Cigna, Intel, Sprint and Whirlpool – "worry that the labor supply is about to fall seriously short of demand." The argument for a skilled-labor shortage goes like this: As baby boomers retire, there won’t be enough younger people to replace them. The oldest boomers are now 57 and will be 64 in 2010. The generation immediately behind them is significantly smaller.

    Putting these two pieces together, I think the pie can only be expected to expand and grow in ways we simply can’t fathom right now. Just as I never thought of ‘web services’ when I was playing around with Windows 3.0 and Ami Pro on my 386 more than a decade and a half ago, I doubt we can truly comprehend what’s down the pipe a decade from now.,17863,516005,00.html

  47. Much hubbub has been aired about H-1B visas in the technology world. In a blog post I wrote more than

  48. Much hubbub has been aired about H-1B visas in the technology world. In a blog post I wrote more than

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