Russian Software Outsourcer Auriga Seeks Wider Skies

"We want to be an American company based in Russia," says Alexis Sukharev, president of the company, which specializes in system-level development.

MOSCOW—As a smaller Russian software outsourcer, Auriga faces the challenge of raising its profile in an industry where size matters when it comes to the ability to attract attention and win contracts.

"We want to be an American company based in Russia," said Auriga president Alexis Sukharev in an interview here at Aurigas Moscow development office. "We want to have Russian skills and American culture."

The company, which specializes in system-level development, got its start way back in 1990 when it signed a development deal with Hewlett-Packard under the leadership of Sukharev, a professor at Moscow State University.

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Sukharev moved to Amherst, N.H., and brought the company headquarters with him in 1993. He claims the company is the oldest software outsourcer in Russia and the first to establish a U.S. headquarters.

The company still draws on Sukharevs academic connections to recruit top Russian university talent.

"We want to make the best Russian brains do the best possible job," Sukharev said. He said 94 percent of Aurigas staff have masters degrees and many of those have concentrated in math and physics.

"The Indians can train 10,000 people in .Net just like this. But if you have a math or physics degree from Moscow State, you can learn new technologies quickly," Sukharev said.

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Aurigas sales were $3.71 million in 2004 and $4.92 million in 2005, but Sukharev is aiming for a big bump in the next few years—to $34.64 million in 2009—although to reach that goal will require additional financing, he said.

Auriga now has five development centers in Russia and a total of 240 employees, 10 of whom are based in the United States. The company opened offices in France and Germany in 2006.

In the future, Sukharev said, he wants to handle 60 percent of Aurigas work in the United States, 30 percent in Europe and 10 percent in Russia.

Since its initial work for HP, Auriga has won contracts with IBM, for hardware verification, modeling and simulation, and for embedded Linux development. BroadVision, a provider of self-service Web applications, has been a customer since 1995.

Currently, Aurigas largest customer, in a deal worth $1.9 million in 2006, is Draeger Medical, a German company with U. S. offices in Danvers, Mass. Auriga is working on a project to build embedded bedside systems for hospitals. As is usually the case for Auriga, the work requires knowledge of hardware and system-level programming.

Sukharev is an active member of Russoft, the trade association of software outsourcing companies based in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and was a key figure in organizing the visit to Boston in 2005 of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to speak on behalf of the Russian software industry.

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