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Dell India shuts R&D division

(Pic: Michael Dell with the Chief Minister of Punjab, an Indian State)

BANGALORE: Dell’s R&D division in India is shutting down its core area of hardware design, a segment for which it had big plans about a year ago. The company’s site directors Vivek Mansingh and Kef Salestieu held a meeting with the staff of the division in Bangalore and explained that the work being done by the hardware unit in India is to be moved to the computer maker’s facilities in Austin (US) and Taiwan.

Estimates for the number of people who will lose their jobs in India on account of this vary between a few dozens to about 170. The division has about 500 people. Sources said that employees who have to leave have been given one-and-a-half months to find alternative jobs.

A Dell India spokesperson confirmed that hardware design will move out. “Our future mission in India has been redefined. The country has great strengths in software. So our focus here will be on software development, solutions, testing and documentation. We will be hiring people in these areas,” he said.

The R&D division has been steadily losing its employees over the past couple of months on account of no work coming into India. One former employee, who quit Dell about a month ago, said he had been hired late last year with promises of challenging work. “Dell said it wanted to do high end work in the enterprise hardware development space and in enterprise software management. But I ended up working on mundane stuff,” he said.

At the meeting, the official reason stated for shifting the division out of Bangalore was rising costs in the city. But some employees noted that the reason does not hold water, because Austin and Taiwan are likely to be more expensive. “I think it was because of sheer mismanagement that the division has had to be wound up. I was part of the senior management of the division, and I can tell you there were no systems and processes in place, and there were too many expats,” he said.

A Dell employee said the platform engineering group set up to design a new server slated to be launched during the first quarter of 2008 has already been closed down.

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