Code floats: Offshoring gets literal

A project that aims to put 600 software programmers out to sea in a refitted cruise ship is making waves, and headlines, this week.

Featured on the pages of everything from Forbes Magazine to the Boston Globe, the nautical programming effort dubbed SeaCode will anchor 3.1 miles off the coast on Los Angeles in an effort to attract software coders who cannot gain legal worker status in the United States. Sitting just out of reach of U.S. immigration laws, the project stewards believe the ship will still be close enough to establish itself as a welcome provider of outsourced software development to American companies, while offering the same overhead savings promised by more traditional "offshoring."

While the SeaCode project's Web site remains scant of details on living conditions on its ship, the effort promises to provide an interesting compromise for companies that feel the need to save money via outsourcing, but hate the idea of sending jobs to other countries. SeaCode claims that 90 percent of any revenue generated inside its hull will stay in the U.S. The effort does promise round-the-clock development capabilities delivered via teams of programmers working different shifts around the clock.

SeaCode has yet to indicate whether it will feature any sort of social coordinator or singles events, as people have come to expect on similar cruise ships since at least the dawn of the "Love Boat" era on TV. However, the project does pledge to deliver "unsurpassed physical and virtual security, including the protection of U.S. Intellectual Property laws only minutes from Los Angeles International Airport."

Only time will tell if the sea-faring offshoring approach holds water.

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