More Software Development and Russia

by Jon Erikson

In the June 2007 issue of Dr. Dobb’s Journal, I wrote a short article entitled Up the Russian River in which I spilled my guts to just about everything I know about software development in Russia. Which explains why this was a “short” article. This article was based a recent 4-day visit to Moscow where we put on Software Development Best Practices Moscow 2007. As I said in the article, by today’s journalistic standards, that qualifies me as an unqualified expert on all things Russian.

But I know now that if I’d waited just a little longer, I could have stretched my reputation for Russian expertise even further, thanks to an IDC that recently crossed my desk.

The report, entitled Russia as an Offshore Software Development Location: Should You Consider This Your Next Move?, written by Marianne Kolding and ladimír Kroa and report sponsored by RUSSOFT (a software development trade association), is based on executive-level interviews with 20 Western European and U.S.-based companies that have used Russian software and services.

According to IDC, Central and Eastern Europe has established itself for clients based in the U.S. and Western Europe. (That’s why the Dr. Dobb’s June cover story is Software Development In Eastern Europe is HOT.) IDC estimates that the value of IT services-related exports from Central and Eastern Europe to U.S. and
Western Europewas about $1 billion in 2005. Moreover, says IDC, the value of captive services operations, such as R&D centers or dedicated back-office functions, exceeds that amount.

What makes Russia an attractive destination, IDC asks? Well, Russia has the largest labor force and the biggest pool of educated talent. Russia has historically produced highly skilled professionals, particularly research, mathematics, and engineering specialists, able to tackle non-standard tasks. The country has a strong education base, with universities in Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod turning out large numbers of technical graduates. In particular, says IDC, Russian programmers excel at high-end and complex systems design and development, particularly when it comes to software engineering.

Another important factor is that, unlike in India, Russian labor attrition rates are relatively low. That is, there’s not a lot of staff turnover. In fact, according to IDC, a quarter of the companies interviewed mentioned lower staff turnover as one of the reasons why they chose a Russian software development firm rather than an Indian firm.

Beyond technical skills, Russian developers have been lauded for their ability to deal with highly complex projects, utilize software development methodologies, make changes mid-project, and use robust, real-time languages is particularly important when developing mission critical, embedded applications and operating systems.

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