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Ron In India, Day One: Golden Arches And Machine Room Suites

I'm in India this week tagging along with a group of IT professionals from CMP Media and United Business Media (UBM) as they investigate opportunities for outsourcing.

Ron Anderson

January 9, 2006

3 Min Read

I'm in India this week tagging along with a group of IT professionals from CMP Media and United Business Media (UBM) as they investigate opportunities for outsourcing.

Before I talk about our visit today with HCL, one of the largest remote-infrastructure-management firms in India, I'll say a couple of things about my travel experience. Today I was in Delhi. Right now I'm on a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Delhi to Bangalore for meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then it's back to Delhi for a final meeting Friday before heading home.

If you've heard horror stories about traffic in India, they're all true and probably don't do justice to the reality. The roads around Delhi were thick with traffic and lane markers were universally ignored by trucks, cars, scooters, rickshaws, bikes, pedestrians, and various farm animals. It wasn't unusual to be traveling down a two-lane road and see four or five cars riding abreast. The modus operandi is to honk, go first, and ask questions later. I've experienced many a white-knuckled cab ride from LaGuardia to Manhattan over the years, but New York cabbies don't hold a candle to the pure audacity I witnessed by every driver today. If their car horn broke I'm convinced that most Indian drivers would pull to the side of the road as debilitated as we would be if one of the wheels fell off of our car. The amazing thing about the driving display I witnessed today was that all of the jockeying for position appears to be done without incurring any rancor from the drivers that are being out-jockeyed. A resigned shrug was the only evidence that I saw that another driver took any exception at all.

McDonald's in India
Click to Enlarge

A sight that stuck with me today--a McDonald's complete with the golden arches was across the street from one of HCL's buildings. It didn't look like it belonged there, especially since there was a free-roaming Brahma bull contentedly grazing on a patch of grass beside the restaurant. But, I digress...

On to HCL. The IT-services firm brought in $2.7 billion U.S. in revenue last year and is comprised of two divisions, HCL Infosystems and HCL Technologies. The Infosystems division manufactures and brands its own computers for the Indian market and represents about $1.7 billion of the total revenue. The Technologies division is the remote-infrastructure-management arm. HCL is a big company with a number of years of experience and an impressive list of customers, none of whom I can identify at HCL's request.

The building I was in today was comprised of six floors. Each of the top five floors was partitioned into suites to provide an outsourced machine room and office space for HCL's customers. Each suite represents a distinct space carved out of HCL-one for each customer.

Over the next two days we'll be meeting with additional remote-infrastructure-management firms and I'll have more to say about the techniques and technology behind HCL as well as the other firms. Now, I need to get some sleep-it's been a rare commodity since I left Syracuse on Saturday.

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