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US firm ASG is to create 200 software development jobs in Northern Ireland. The privately-held company is opening a development centre in Belfast and plans to hire 60 to 70 staff there annually for the next three years, with the possibility of moving support staff in as well later.

According to ASG president, CEO and owner Art Allen, the move reflects an industry trend away from outsourcing. "I believe we're going to see more organisations set up their own operations abroad rather than outsource," he says. "That's where the industry is going - if DP functions are to be moved overseas, they need to own them."

He adds that the company currently employs 900 people and practises what it preaches by being a distributed business, run through an Internet portal. "We are very experienced in distributed development," he says. "Technology makes it very easy to be distributed today."

The Belfast developers will work on ASG's infrastructure and system management software, especially in areas such as business service management, the modernisation of legacy applications, and business process automation. The company says it can manage all sorts of systems, from PCs through UNIX to mainframes.

"We also looked at China, India, Brazil and South Africa, and chose Nothern Ireland for a variety of reasons," Allen adds. "There's technical talent, it's a 30 minute flight from London, and the government there made it real cost effective for us. On paper the other places looked cheaper, but in reality when you add the cost of rework, different languages and timezones, they lose the advantage." ®

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