Offshore or Inshore: Is There a Risk in Sending Programming Work Offshore

As a software development company, we obviously care a lot about hosting and servers. Afterall, our business is dependent upon the success of our clients – and the success of our clients is dependent upon the quality and reliability of their websites. Even a few hours of a downed website can be catastrophic to many of our clients, especially SMBs – the meat of our business.

So, when we were in the market for a new hosting company some time ago, we expended considerable energy to research the options available. We finally narrowed it down to two options, neither of which we can currently name so we shall refer to them by pseudonyms: Company Q and Company Z.

The biggest issue we faced was that while Company Z is one of the top-rated server companies in the world, they were preparing to ramp up their business. This meant Co.Z needed to physically move their servers. This would in possible or definite interruptions in service for our clients.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the good and bad of each company and take a closer look at the decision we faced:

1. Company Q: A hosting company based in India.

a. Pros:

i. Extraordinarily inexpensive, especially when compared to U.S. options;

ii. Bigger staff; developers in India are not only more numerous (compared to the U.S.) but they’re less expensive to employ.

iii. Stability – they had a large facility that gave them plenty of space. This meant they wouldn’t need to move anytime soon – no service interruption.

b. Cons:

i. Our biggest concern was reliability. Let’s face it, offshore work has a reputation that isn’t great, undeservedly or not. We were concerned that the work of the developers, the quality of the servers and the reliability of the connection to the internet. This was heightened to new levels because Co.Q was an unknown entity.

ii. Time differential and distance is always a downside to international outsourcing. If we had an issue, we would likely need to wait (or so we thought).

2. Company Z: A top-rated U.S. based hosting company

a. Pros:

i. An excellent reputation – one of the top 5 hosting companies in the U.S. alone;

ii.Some of the best server equipment on the market;

iii. Local to us in Silicon Valley (compared to Co.Q). This was important to us because if we had issues, we wanted to be able to contact them immediately.

b. Cons:

i. Co.Z was pretty pricey. Of course the idea here is that you get the work for which you pay (we learned that this isn’t necessarily, as you shall see);

ii. As mentioned above, they were preparing to move to a bigger location. While long term, this would increase their ability to meet our needs and the needs of our clients. Short term, this meant interruptions to our websites and a potential loss of revenue for our clients – and us.

So we were faced with a choice: the known, well-respected local company that could very well result in the loss of business for us; or, the unknown Co.Q based in India, with little to no reputation. At the end of the day, we chose Co.Z, the reliable, high-quality U.S. company.

Co.Z had the skills, the equipment, the location, everything we wanted – except that move. Co.Z did offer the following assurances (which ended up being the deciding factor):

• They had done this before and knew what they were doing;

• They were going to move in stages;

• i.e. only some of their servers would be offline at any given time, which would prevent service interruptions; and The whole move would take less than two months.

The Reality

So what ended up happening? Exactly what you think would happen: Co.Z’s timeline of 8 weeks turned into 6+ months of moving, with continual interruptions to our service. And not minor interruptions; several of our clients’ websites were down for hours.

In retrospect, we should not have judged Co.Q because of the reputation of other Indian companies. At the end of the day, we had to drop Co.Z and had to migrate our servers over to Co.Q. Since the said migration, we have had no issues and love the service we receive. Still, we not only had to spend time dealing with Co.Z, but we had to commit ourselves to two server migrations in one year.

A server migration, for those of you who are unaware, is the process by which websites and apps are transferred from one hosting company to another. It’s laborious, intensive, requires extreme attention to detail, and comprehensive knowledge of tech development and management.

Most website, app, and software development companies need to hire a third party; fortunately for us, our developers are more than capable of doing this themselves (hire our developers on an hourly rate to help migrate your website!). Of course, we did spend way too much time and effort to do it when we could have done it correctly from the get-go.

The irony is not lost on us: we are in fact a company that utilizes over 200 developers. We frequently get faced with questions as to the quality of our Indian development team, so we should have been cognizant of the inherent bias. We weren’t. Like Company Q, our staff has more development experience than most U.S. based companies (all of our developers have 5 years of programming experience plus at least one degree from a recognized university) and, like Co.Q, our Indian team works constantly.

The one concern we had with Co.Q remains standing: the unfortunate time and location differentials. We have yet to have any issues and Co.Q has people on standby in India, but their concern is valid, and one we face frequently ourselves.

However, unlike Co.Q, we are not based in India. Our main office is in Silicon Valley, at the heart of the tech universe. We have global offices and global clients – from Australia to the Bay, we’re there. Our development team, while based in India, is managed out of our international offices by a staff pulled from Webex, Cisco, Apple, and other Valley giants.

We stand by the work we do, and so do our clients. Our work with notable clients like PepsiCo, Louis Vuitton, and Stanford has earned us an excellent and well-deserved reputation. Today, over 80% of our business comes from repeat customers and, after 16 years in this business, we’re still going strong.

If you would like to get started on your own app, website or custom software (or any other tech help), give us a call at 408.802.2885. Call soon to take advantage of our deals, ranging from a free app screen design to responsive website conversion for as low as $499 (up to 10 pages).

How to use WordPress Plugins to Grow Your Business

As far as CMS systems and web frameworks, you could hardly do better than WordPress. While it has restrictions (it’s not great for eCommerce sites), it’s the perfect option for standard web sites, especially blogging and content heavy sites.

But this post is not about how to use WordPress to build a website – we did that already. This is about how you can use extensions and plugins WordPress offers to create a dynamic website with a killer UX/UI. Why does this matter to your business?

The modern consumer loves a site that stays fresh and has a modern or trendy feel. More importantly, plugins can extend the capacity of your website and grow your business. At this point, we are assuming that you have a website up and running; but if you don’t, SDI’s developers can get your site up and running before the digital ink on the contract was dry.

What are Plugins?

A plugin is what developers use to increase the functionality of a website. Is basically a prewritten chunk of code that can be added onto a basic framework. Through this method, users can create a unique and striking website without needing to purchase a massive framework with unnecessary features and functions (a comparison can be drawn between this and the difference between packaged software and SaaS).

Plugins are how open source frameworks make money. Some CMS frameworks, like Magento, come out of the box as a huge framework with a ton of features; others, like WordPress, are extremely lightweight frameworks with a pretty limited functionality. While Magento may sound like the better option right off the bat, the choice really comes down to context:

♦ The first one is clear and already mentioned above – WordPress isn’t an eCommerce framework. However, WordPress users can download the free eCommerce platform known as WooCommerce (read a quick comparison between WooCommerce and Magento here).

♦ Magento requires a pretty comprehensive understanding of coding. WordPress can be used by someone with almost no coding experience. Of course, expert coders can use WordPress to its fullest extent and much quicker an an amatuer. Remember, your website is the face of your business, so do it right the first time!

♦ As mentioned, Magento can do more out of the box than WordPress. Since both are free, it is often the instinct of the wild entrepreneur to go with the free product that does more. Seems pretty logical, right? Unfortunately, this time it’s simply not true. Magento is huge and requires dedicated hosting on a high-end, expensive server.

♦ WordPress (and WooCommerce) are specifically designed to have a low footprint. They can run quickly and perfectly on shared hosting, or lower-end servers. As anyone with a website or app can tell you, server costs can be a huge drain on a business, so this needs to be carefully considered.

♦ Adding to the server expense, Magento has extremely expensive plugins. Yes – you will still need plugins with Magento! If you have the cash, it’s completely worth it; Magento is an excellent framework and is one of, if not the, most popular CMS frameworks out there for a reason. That being said, it may not be the option for a lot of SMBs and entrepreneurs with low liquidity.

How Plugins can Grow Your Business

There are a lot of WordPress plugins – nearly 40,000 at last count, in fact. Really, though, that number is arbitrary; WordPress adds plugins daily. WordPress’ development team is constantly working on offering their clients fresh new features and improved functionality. Let’s take a look at what types of plugins are good for business growth and an example or two of each.

♦ SEO plugins are necessary. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is what techies call marketing, or at least a part of what we call marketing. This is something you will absolutely need from the get go. Without proper utilization of SEO tactics, your website will be forever doomed to the distant corners of the Webiverse. It is possible to do SEO on your own (and you will need to at least to some extent – see more on SEO friendly websites here), but the world of SEO is a deep dark morass, best avoided as much as possible.

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is probably your best bet for this functionality.

♦ Caching static sites is an excellent way to speed up your website. The optimal load time for a website is 3 seconds; anything beyond that and you’re losing traffic, business and money. Fortunately, WordPress offers several plugins that help create static HTML sites and cache all of the pages you need for a lighting quick website. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are two of the best.

♦ Analytic plugins are a vital part of a successful business that uses an app or website. It doesn’t matter whether or not your business has nothing more to do with the tech world than simply having a website. A website is intended to drive business, analytics help you understand how traffic is flowing through your site, what is working and what is not. Analytic plugins are necessary to know if your website is even working. While using straight Google Analytics or MixPanel is just fine, our developers recommend installing Yoast’s Google Analytics for WordPress plugin in order to get the best understanding of your website.

SDI creates app and web solutions for startups, enterprise and entrepreneurs.Take a look at some of our amazing work and give us a call at 408.802.2885 to learn more about how we can help your project. Contact us and get your landing page designed in 1 day.