Despite tsunamis, outsourcers stay in Chennai

Indian outsourcing companies that have operations in Chennai, one of the locations on the southeast coast of India that was hit by tsunamis nearly two weeks ago, have decided to stay in the city.

The operations of outsourcing companies in Chennai were not disrupted by the tsunamis, and their staff have been able to get to work without much difficulty, according to reports from these companies. But there is still considerable anxiety in the city and neighboring areas that the aftershocks of the Sunday earthquake could trigger off more tsunamis.

Wipro Ltd. in Bangalore, for example, uses its facility in Chennai as one of two backup sites in the country for its own corporate data as well as customer data from its facilities across India. Its other backup site is in Bangalore.

“We have no plans to move the backup facility from Chennai, because the facility is sufficiently inland and not at risk,” said a spokesman for the company. For customers who want the service, Wipro also offers backup of their data at centers abroad, the spokesman added.

In view of a border dispute in the north of India between India and neighboring Pakistan, a number of Indian outsourcing companies beefed up operations in Chennai in South India as it was thought to be a safer location in the event of a war between the two countries.

The Marina beach at Chennai was hit by the tsunamis and a large number of people were killed there. But the largest impact of the tsunamis was on other coastal areas of eastern India, where the primary economic activities are fishing and tourism.

A number of Indian outsourcing companies including Wipro, Infosys Technologies Ltd. in Bangalore, and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. in Mumbai also have software development operations in Chennai, because it is easier and cheaper to hire manpower in the city than in neighboring Bangalore. Wipro, for example, has about 1,500 staff at its software development facility in Chennai.

Infosys does not have plans to move its software development facility out of Chennai in the wake of the devastation by the tsunamis, according to a spokeswoman of the company. The facility is about five miles from the coast, and there was no damage or water seepage in the center, according to a statement from Infosys. The company’s disaster recovery facility is inland in Mauritius, the spokeswoman said.

Other companies with facilities in Chennai have indicated they will continue to operate in the city.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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