Though contract manufacturing is a popular concept in the hard ware industry,
it is difficult to find its counterpart in the software sector. Coming closest
would be Pune-based Persistent Systems, the brainchild of Dr. Anand Deshpande,
an ex-member of the HP Labs in Palo Alto. This Rs 80 crore company, formed in
1990, provides complete lifecycle services for offshore software product
development by ISVs. "What this means is that we have product development
companies as customers, for whom we develop the products, though the
Intellectual Property is owned by these companies only," says Deshpande.
Having positioned itself as an outsourced product development company,
Persistent is no longer just providing software components; it is doing the full
life cycle of the product. "We build a product, support and maintain it,
build new versions depending on the market feedback and now provide even
Intellectual Property to our customers as well. You can probably call us the
Flextronics of the software industry," Deshpande says.
Not an idle boast, considering that just like Flextronics, Persistent too
works for clients of high pedigree like IBM, BEA Systems, Microsoft, HP, Intel,
Agilent, Symantec, Oracle, Openwave and Google. It counts even Indian companies
like Sonata, Symphony and Aztec amongst its customers. On sheer size, however,
Openwave, Agilent and IBM are three of Persistent’s current top customers.
In recent times, Persistent has gone for some interesting diversification in
new domains. While in bioinformatics, the company is working on genome
sequencing with White Heal Labs in Broad Institute, MIT, life sciences involves
data management work for Siteman Cancer Research Institute in Washington.
In last one year, more than 700 people joined the company taking its total
count in six centers across Pune to 1280. Besides, it has around 85 people in
its newly opened Nagpur center. While this sort of substantial hiring is quite
unusual for a product company, Deshpande explains it to an increase in accounts
with ISV clients plus diversification in new areas. No wonder, he is predicting
revenues of Rs 138 crore and Rs 230 crore for Persistent in 2004-05 and 2005-06