Offshore software development is spreading

Offshore software development, already considered the bane of U.S.-based programmers, is growing stronger, according to officials at Sun Microsystems and IBM who spoke at the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in California this week.

While growth in the United States is somewhat flat, programming is taking off in areas around the globe ranging from India and China to Mexico, Spain, Brazil, and Vietnam, said Matt Thompson, director of the Technology Outreach & Open Source Programs Office at Sun. Other areas of importance include the Philippines, Malaysia, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.

"I've spent the last 15 quarters every quarter going to India. I've been in China six times," Thompson said.

"India and China are our two biggest investments," he added.

The cost savings gained by moving development outside the United States has been well-documented of late. But Thompson noted that costs now are rising rapidly in India.

Thompson stressed the quality of programming overseas. "The stuff they're putting out is really good," he said.

IBM, while also leveraging developer programs in the United States, is working with schools in India and China, said Gina Poole, vice president for Developer Relations at IBM.

"They're very excited about preparing their students to be the most competitive in the workplace," Poole said.

All is not lost, however, for U.S. programmers, Sun and IBM officials said.

IBM's Kathy Mandelstein, director for worldwide marketing in the company's ISV and Developer Relations program, said while base coding jobs are moving offshore, software analyst and architect positions need to be closer to the actual business, in the U.S.

Sun's Thompson stressed competitiveness.

"I believe there will always be a job market in this country as long as we are globally competitive," Thompson said. U.S. developers must compete on the basis of skills, innovation, and invention, he said.

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