IT Offshoring – It began differently than you might think!

IT outsourcing – offshoring – nearshoring – global delivery?  They’re familiar terms today – in fact, they are buzzwords.  Once they meant only cost-saving, but now these term more often refer to technical excellence.

When I first went to Bangalore in the early 2000’s to manage a global delivery facility for Hewlett Packard, I was amazed. I had traveled India before as a tourist, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bangalore.  What I found was a metropolis of IT.  That was 14 years ago.  Today, depending on what source you read, Bangalore is the center of 41% of all engineering research and development (ER&D) and 39% of all global in-house centers (GIC) in India.  In human terms, it has 530,000 trained technical people.  And that’s just the one city.  Directly or indirectly, India employs about 3 million people in direct IT support, and another 7 million in indirect support.

That’s more than 50% of all global outsourcing.

So – when did this begin?  How did it start?  Where did it start?  Why?  Like Henry Ford’s garage it had simple beginnings.  And in 30 years it has become a mammoth industry.

I first waded into this water in 2005.  But my Dad, now a semi-retired systems designer and professor of computer sciences, remembers start-up days back in the 1970’s and 1980’s – literally decades before many people think “offshore” began.  Together we assembled some memories of those first days that we’ll be publishing in a series of upcoming blogs. I think you’ll find it both enlightening and fun.  It’s like looking back at Mr. Ford’s first assembly line.


The “offshore” model, with my team in Bangalore:


And the “nearshore” model, with my team in Bulgaria:


The story begins here on my Dad’s blog, with the link here:  A little known history of IT offshoring – Part I

Eureka! I found it!

I shared one of my all time favorite snaps in a recent post, but I mentioned that I sadly did not recall where I took the photo.  I spend a lot of time trying to capture the quiet emotions you can find at great lakes . . . so my memory in this area fails from time to time:

While researching my photo collection I found the original, together with many others I took at Lake Pancherevo, the Pasarel Reservoir,  and the Iskar Reservoir- they are actually connected and are the Bulgarian/Russian equivalent of the public water works projects in the United States started after the Depression – just outside of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.


The lion of justice

This is the sight you’ll see if you visit the Supreme Court building in Sofia, or Съдебна палата.

I guess you can associate justice with a lion (Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia, Mufasa in The Lion King, etc.).

It’s just that for me, when I think of justice, the symbol that comes to mind is a blind-folded lady wearing flowing robes and carrying a scale – rather than an vicious apex predator capable of severing a man’s neck with just two of its razor sharp teeth.

Incredible Bulgarian countryside

I am convinced that the Bulgarian countryside holds the Number Two World Record in sheer amazingness, surpassed only by the countryside of rural India.

I took this snap of a huge monument out in the countryside of western Bulgaria, far away from any town or village:

Unfortunately I don’t understand Bulgarian, but I also captured the quite lengthy text etched into the monument:

Update added 21. October 2017: A friend of mine from Bulgaria just translated this for me.  The monument is for the people from Samokov in 1923 who have died fighting against the Monarchy and celebrates at the same time the start of the communism in 1944.

Bulgarian Cathedral

You can’t make a trip to Sofia without seeing this incredible church, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:

It’s a fairly modern cathedral, as far as cathedrals go – built around 1870 I think. This was always one of my “jumping off” points for long walks around Sofia, where the ancient and glorious architecture could still be found after hiding for a few generations under Communist neglect. In a generation from now, I predict Sofia will be one of the greatest European cities.

Sofia Storefront

I don’t know what they are called: basement storefronts?  Half storefronts?  Lower storefronts? In Bulgarian they are known as “klek shops,” since “klek” means “to squat.”

But whatever they are called, I was quite surprised to find a number of these in Sofia, Bulgaria:

The shopkeeper is located in a basement, and he / she sells things through the basement window.

I was quite surprised to find a real life example of this, since until now the only places I’ve seen pictures of these are very old photographs of London.

щъркел – Shturkl!

Everybody knows you can find some storks living in Alsace, France – but these days, just a few.  And if you look hard enough, you can find some living in Southern Germany – but these days, even fewer.

The first time I left Sofia to explore the West Bulgarian countryside, I was amazed to find huge numbers of storks – also known as “shturkl” in Bulgarian. Here are storks on a monument (monument storks):

Here are storks on a transformer (transformer storks?)

And here are storks on a house (house storks):

Stone sculptures in Sofia

When I was building an IT organization in Bulgaria, I’d often take long walks through the capital city of Sofia.  It’s a wonderful old city, whose intrinsic and ancient beauty was still visible underneath the more recent Communist neglect.  Anyway, in addition to the old stuff, there was plenty of new stuff there as well, such as stone sculptures like this:

and this:

and this:

I’m not sure if they are still there or who the artist was. As soon as I find out, I’ll update this blog!

Oldest building in Sofia

In Bulgaria you can see some of the oldest buildings and ruins and structures in all of Europe.

This is the Church of St. George, dating back to the year 400:

What’s just amazing is that you are free to enter the church, touch the old stone walls, and even walk on a real section of a real Roman road located outside!

The writing on this placque looks Russian, but be careful – it’s not!  The Cyrillic alphabet  was created by two Bulgarian brothers, which just adds to the wonders and great gifts that Bulgaria has to offer!

Rambo’s adversary

This is an authentic Russian Mil Mi-24 attack helicopter, of precisely the sort that chased Rambo.

I took this picture just outside the National History Museum, in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Imagine a national history museum that greets visitors with this – how cool is that?!

(Believe it or not, Sylvestor Stallone visited Sofia just a few weeks after I took this picture, planning to film a new movie here.)