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October 23, 1997


The time machine

TCS opens a Y2K 'factory' which will
trundle out 2 million lines of code a day!

Tata Consultancy Services, the country's largest software exporter, has set up a 70,000 square feet software development facility, dedicated solely to providing solutions for the year 2000 bug problem.

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The facility, located at the Ambattur industrial estate on the outskirts of Madras, will house some 1,000 professionals from TCS and its business associates.

According to S Mahalingam, TCS executive vice-president, the facility represents the first attempt by an Indian software company to set up a "highly-automated, factory kind of atmosphere" on a large scale.

The company has installed two large IBM mainframes worth Rs 350 million at the facility, making it one of the largest such installations worldwide.

With the Y2K deadline barely 800 days away, the new factory will be crucial to the successful execution of the several large overseas Y2K contracts bagged by TCS.

With its high-tech computing facilities and high-speed telecom links, the centre has the capacity to turn out two million lines of code each day.

TCS is currently involved in over 80 different Y2K projects for customers in countries in Europe, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Several of these projects involve the analysis and conversion of computer systems involving well over a 100 million lines of software code.

TCS has evolved a programme under which the company will outsource the manpower-intensive 'conversion' and 'testing' work - the last two stages in any Y2K project - to third-party business associates. The company has already signed up seven companies as business associates and plans to sign up a few more in the coming weeks.

The employees of the business associates, who will be trained by TCS, will work on various Y2K projects at the new centre under the management and leadership of TCS personnel.

The new centre is linked to TCS' offices in New York and London, using a 512 Kbps satellite link. The company plans to upgrade the link to 2 Mbps later on.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new centre, F C Kohli, TCS deputy chairman, said the adoption of a factory approach for Y2K projects would be a "tremendous learning experience" for the company and would benefit it in later years too. "Also, at the end of two years, this factory would have produced 3,000- 4,000 people who could be absorbed into the country's software industry," he said.

Former state industries secretary and SIDCO Chairman P C Cyriac said Madras, with its large and talented manpower resource, has the potential to supplant Bangalore as India's Silicon Valley. He pointed out that Alcatel, the large multinational telecom company, has chosen to locate its software development centre in Madras after examining several other Indian cities including Bangalore.

State Industries Secretary M S Srinivasan said the Tamil Nadu government has drawn up plans to attract information technology companies, including several MNCs, to the state. He said that thus far, MNCs have not chosen to locate facilities in Madras due to lack of adequate infrastructure. They also do not have access to proper information about the state's benefits, he confessed.

Srinivasan said the state is hoping that the two 'software technology parks' and the Tamil Nadu Institute of Information Technology will help make Madras the "software capital" of the country.

Michele J Sison, the US consul-general, said several large US companies are dependent on TCS for their Y2K solutions.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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