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

November 25, 2015 | Raj Srivastav

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 408.805.0495. 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).

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