Recession and FOSS

Recession is just a Challenge

Photo by SuMarDi

RecessionIts just a Challenge.

Over the last several months, majority of businesses have been hit brutally by the recession wave. However, it has served as a blessing in disguise for Linux and the FOSS world. A lot of large organizations have found Linux as a pillar to operate upon and migrate to, in today’s cost cutting scenario. This change is pretty much functional in the BPO sector as well. There have been numerous news on them shifting to OpenOffice and Ubuntu, leaving behind their MS counterparts. Free and Open Source movement has traditionally proved to be beneficial for innovation or research related work.

Open Source is one such model which has not been hit hard by the credit crisis and it’s aftermaths because of its open exchange business model wherein users contribute towards the success of one common goal and the companies make money but offering support to the client after the deployment of the product. The same happens with Linux distributions like RedHat Enterprise. The best part about Linux is that it’s not chained to a corporation, instead a community of enthusiastic developers and fanboys.

The severe liquidity crunch prevailing in the markets have resulted in a boon for the Open Source propagators. Many operations which can be run at a bare minimum cost will find its way up the organizational ladder and will prove its usage in critical times. Open Source will also benefit as it is often shipped with a free-license.

An Open Source product or service will be able to get buyers who are bereft of major cash inflows and the business operations shall hence continue successfully. The best thing that could happen to Linux is its emergence as the top alternative to Microsoft. Open Source tools such as PostgreSQL, Ruby, Perl, Python, and Ubuntu etc. can be used as a substitute to do most work that Microsoft does, of course with a difference in terms of use, installation, features and support. This will probably be of tremendous help to FOSS in retaining its “free aspect” USP.

However, experts would know that Linux still has miles to go before it becomes a household name as Microsoft is. An IDC Survey reported,

“55 percent of the 300 IT executives surveyed already had Linux systems in use; a full 97 percent were running Windows.”

Source: IDC

The key to promote Linux effectively not only lies with Linux enthusiasts but also with Open Source vendors who are yet to find out a way in which it can be monetized efficiently to expand recognition amongst its probable user base.

Keeping all considerations in mind, Linux is doing pretty well in the times when the best in other business have shut down. Earlier this year, Ken Huss wrote an interesting article on five reasons why Linux is recession proof and it surely does instill a hope within the Linux community. Today, when money and not time is the problem with most companies suffering with the recession wave, such initiatives can act as a motivating source to develop a product or service that the world needs; proving to the software fraternity that FOSS shall contribute in overcoming recession and probably stand out as a winner.

Venture Capitalist prefer investing in Startups to Stock Market

I was reading the Business & World section of the Hindustan Times and something caught my fancy – VCs prefer start-ups to stock market. The realm of VCs, Angel-funding, Startups is rather new in India and more importantly weird to most of the common Indian masses – be it IT, ITES, Programmers and budding entrepreneurs.

Many overseas Venture Capitalist and Non-resident Indian (including India returned Indians) have realized that investing in Indian start-ups would be far more rewarding than the country’s current booming stock market. This may, in a way, sound rather too optimistic with the fact that the Indian rupee is competing very well with the US Dollar at the moment (the US Dollar is lower than INR 40 at the time of writing this article).

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Technology, Internet Services, BPO, Call-Center Honeymoon in India about to turn sour?

Call CenterYou don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know that India is the place where many jobs are bangalored and thus India have been earning huge international investment in the past few years. However, it seem to have reached a stagnation point. Study revealed that the attrition rate have reached around 50%. The salary of the BPO, Call-Center workers have increased tremendously because there is a huge demand. One company is buying out employees from another and vice versa. The demand for skilled workforce in this sector is not being met by enough supply.

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Are you a Programmer or a Coder?

Are programmers and Coders the most neglected link in the Software Development Chain? Coders are like smart assembly line workers as opposed to programmers who are plant engineers. Programmers are the brains, the glorious visionaries who create things. Large software programmers that often run into billions of lines are designed and developed by a handful of programmers. Coders follow instructions of the large program.

Some industry experts have put in that — if programming requires a post graduate level of knowledge of complex algorithms and programming methods, coding requires only high school knowledge of the subject. Coding is deemed repetitive and monotonous.

During many events, like the one last week in India at the annual fair of the software industry’s apex body Nasscom, no one mentioned anything about Programmer or aptly the coders. The event, which brought together software professionals from around the world, used up all its 29 sessions to discuss prospects to improve the performance of software companies. Panels chose to debate extensively on subjects like managing innovation, business growth and multiple geographies. But there was nothing on programmers/coders, whom we all believed are the driving force behind the success of any software company.

It has been an eternal battle between the business cubicles and the programmers box if technology drives the business or vice versa. Well, one compliments the other.

Are you a Programmer or a Coder?

In the Indian context, the software professionals aka the programmers aka the coders are the poster boy of Matrimonial classifieds. They are well paid, perceived to be intelligent and travel abroad frequently on software assignments. Or, are they really? Are they paid appropriately for the slogging they do? Are they really intelligent or they follow the directions of the business directives? They travel but do they have a choice, or are they flown and placed like pawns at strategic location by the kings (business tycoons)? Yes, it is an open secret fact which Software Companies won’t say/accept — that Software Professionals specially in India are not programmers but mere coders, they are the assembly line workers.

A Microsoft analyst have rightly said, “Like our manufacturing Industry, the Indian software industry is largely a process driven one. That should speak for the fact that we still don’t have a domestic software product like Yahoo or Google to use in our daily lives.” Is this also another reason that, IIT graduates have consciously shunned India’s best known companies like Infosys and TCS, though they are offered very attractive salaries?

American companies still feel that most of the so called engineers in Indian companies are mere coders. They are almost identical workers who sat along hours to write lines after lines of codes, or test a fraction of a program. They did not complain because their pay and perks were good. Another fuel to this fire is that of the Indian social fabric. Parents, families and spouses do not know or care about the type of works programmers or coders do, they are more interested in the Name of the Company they work for, their monthly paycheck and the ability to include terms like Software Professionals, BPO Team Lead, working in MNC, in their matrimonial classifieds.

Of late, there are uprisings everywhere, emotionally among Programmers in many software companies. They are yearning to do something on their own, something out of the ordinary due to the increasing feeling of dejection. Many programmers want to get out of their routine monotonous coding which no longer excite them. Programmers are toying with ideas of moving out of some of the reputed companies, where they are like caterpillars climbing a wall without knowing how high the wall is.

This is perhaps just the beginning.

Do you want to be a programmer or a coder?

Note: Inspired by an article from yesterday’s Times of India Print Newspaper – A myth called the Indian programmer.

UPDATES

  • 2007 Feb 19: Om Mallick talks about the Troubling Signs for Indian Tech Outsourcers and says that there is bad news for those investors in one of the many US listed technology outsourcing giants such as Infosys. They are no longer the cherished destination for the brightest and the smartest in India.