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Ron In India, Days 2 & 3: Remote Infrastructure Management; Offshore Management Centers

The traffic is still unbelievable but I realized today as I examined the sheet metal around me that it was all intact-no dents, dings not so much as a bumper out of place. There are rules, just not ones that I'm use to but they do appear to work. I have no idea what they are-perhaps the constant honking is really a form of Morse Code.
The traffic is still unbelievable but I realized today as I examined the sheet metal around me that it was all intact-no dents, dings not so much as a bumper out of place. There are rules, just not ones that I'm use to but they do appear to work. I have no idea what they are-perhaps the constant honking is really a form of Morse Code.I missed an entry yesterday. The jet lag and schedule finally caught up with me and I found it impossible to put a coherent sentence together (my editor's probably thinking how's that any different from every other day?). Anyway, I'll try to make up for it by summarizing my impressions of the remote infrastructure management arena in India.

First a report on my sight-of-the-day. As we were touring on the OMCs (Offshore Management Centers) not one, but two of the cubicles had a picture of the three main characters of the Harry Potter movies taped to the wall. The pictures looked like they were from the time of the first movie since the actors were so young. Bonus points to anyone who can name the three characters.

Over the past three days we've met with two large and one medium sized outsourcing firm, HCL on day one, Wipro on day two and Microland today. In addition to remote infrastructure management all of these firms also offer professional services to the IT community and Wipro and HCL also build and brand their own PC and server hardware for sale mostly in the Indian market as well as offer application development services either as an outsourced solution or via staff augmentation.

Gate's view of the Wipro amphitheater
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Wipro is a very large firm that maintains a number of offices throughout India and other parts of the world. We visited Wipro at their growing campus in Electronics City, a development about 15 miles from Bangalore that houses a large number of IT firms thanks to special tax considerations. Wipro's campus reminded me somewhat of Microsoft's campus in Redmond except it was warm and sunny and there were palm trees. As I was taking a tour my host's pointed out the place where Bill Gates stood to address the staff on a visit.

Today I visited Microland also in Electronics City. Yesterday it took an hour and a half to drive the 15 miles from Bangalore to Electronics City and today it took 45 minutes because there was a holiday that closed the schools and partially cleared the roads. At 1340 employees, Microland is much smaller than either HCL or Wipro. They still manage large contracts for Fortune 100 companies supporting thousands of users across multiple time zones. Thirteen months ago Microland was also awarded a contract to manage another Fortune 100's core network backbone. They must be doing something right.

Big business in India
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From a remote infrastructure management and support standpoint, each of these three firms have a lot in common. All offer monitoring services, helpdesk services, server management, data center management, storage management, email management, network management, asset management, desk-side support, IT security services, vendor management and application management. To say that they are fussy about procedures and documentation is an understatement-that's what their customers pay them for. Today, Microland showed us the functional description of one of their supports staff positions. This document ran 14 pages and was filled with details about the technical capabilities inherent in a person holding the position.

The attention to detail, technical and management skills and professionalism demonstrated by all of these organizations as well as off-the-cuff descriptions of 30% savings had a magical calming effect on the UBM IT professionals listening to their pitches. There are still questions to be answered through reference checking and pilot programs but, based on the conversations we've had over the past couple of days, I'm convinced that India's outsourcers have a good chance of winning another customer.

Tomorrow I'll be attending Microsoft Research in India's second annual TechVista symposium in Bangalore. More about that later.