Angelica Marti of Computer Weekly has just spent a week down in Brazil meeting with government and other IT officials about Brazil's desire to become a major force in software development outsourcing. Though Brazil has several disadvantages they must overcome to compete with the likes of India and China as an outsourcing world power, they do believe they have an ace in their sleeve, open source.
Recently Brazil has been in the headlines frequently as it seeks to assert world leadership in several areas. In energy, diplomacy and now software development Brazil wants to be recognized as a world power. In software development though the Brazilian effort has several obstacles to overcome:
1. The average hourly wage in Brazil is substantially higher than that in India or China
2. English is still not widely spoken in the IT sector there (though according to reports that is changing)
3. The Brazilian lifestyle is not conducive with the Indian/Chinese work ethic (they just don't work as many hours)
This would seem like some very substantial reasons why Brazil would not have much success as a software development outsourcing powerhouse. But some in Brazil think all of this can be overcome by open source expertise.
Going back 5 or 6 years, Brazil tried to free itself of Microsoft's stranglehold on the software it used. It put a big push into supporting, using and lead development in open source software technology.
Much the same way it supported the use of bio-fuels like ethanol, this has led to Brazil being less dependent on Microsoft and other closed source software. Additionally, a booming open source development community has been fostered and cultivated.
As a result there is an inordinate amount of expertise around using and developing open source solutions in the country. The government and business leaders believe that this open source expertise will prove very valuable to potential customers wanting software solutions built quickly, efficiently and securely. By building on open source know how, the Brazilians think they can compete with the likes of the big outsource firms in India and China.
Of course it remains to be seen, but an open source expertise allowing Brazil to compete even though they have a higher cost work force is a lesson that the US could certainly learn.