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Siberia - The Next Silicon Valley? 184

Posted by Zonk
from the colder-things-have-happened dept.
eldavojohn writes "CNN Money is running a story about Siberia's rising tech industry.The movement towards tech is centered in Akademgorodok (Academy Town), with a 15 percent annual increase in the number of firms. Even though the area industry's worth is still fledgling compared to other areas, the growth cannot be ignored. 'President Vladimir Putin has also taken note, backing the construction of a $650 million technology business district with $100 million in state funding for infrastructure. "We simply mustn't waste this chance," Putin declared in Akademgorodok following a 2005 trip to tech-savvy India, "especially as other countries have achieved success without such a strong starting position." High tech is the sort of thing that the Kremlin, realizing that Russia's natural resources can't last forever, would like to develop.'"
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Siberia - The Next Silicon Valley?

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  • The Russian Hacker (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:17AM (#18500949) Journal
    It's long been known that Russia [wired.com], the Ukraine [slashdot.org], Poland, etc. contain a vast wealth of programming talent. Look at the rankings of the world wide programming contests [slashdot.org]. Unfortunately, with their dismal economies, these talents are often used for ill rather than good [slashdot.org]. I, myself, have two anecdotal stories of my friend's user accounts being hacked by unknown parties in the Ukraine. All in the name of 50 USD.

    Why?

    Surely, I reasoned, with the amount of time they took to set up that scam and avoid authorities, they could have gotten a job like I have and done something good for even more cash--but, that's my naïve American attitude for you. The job market probably doesn't exist there where they live.

    Nothing would make me happier than to see these people given an opportunity to move somewhere close to make money, help their economy, establish an industry/infrastructure for future generations & to get these programmers off the street and into a job ... however, that could just be my naïve American attitude again.

    On an offtopic note, I used to "cool" my computers in Minnesota by placing them next to the window during the winters, I'm certain you could cut down cooling costs in Siberia using similar strategies.
    • or cut down on heating bills by just making sure the computers have good fans... Well not necessarily heating bills, but when computer power and heating combine, the overall bill could be lower.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:32AM (#18501135) Homepage Journal

      Look at the rankings of the world wide programming contests.

      According to your link, we should be hiring the Polish. The Russians did better than the US's 4 out of 48, but they still didn't take any sort of lion's share at 8 out of 48. And in any case, TopCoder is not a useful metric of anything except for, perhaps, cowboy coding. Many of the key skills required to launch a successful technology business are not measured by simplisitic coding riddles.

      On an offtopic note, I used to "cool" my computers in Minnesota by placing them next to the window during the winters, I'm certain you could cut down cooling costs in Siberia using similar strategies.

      I hope you realize that Siberia is not a frozen wasteland. Siberia covers such an area (where you'll find many of the Chukcha tribes), but it also covers more temperate climates. Not to mention that these programmers wouldn't be a bunch of smart guys packed into a cold little shack. They'll probably be in a building not much different than those found here in America. Which means that they'll have the same cooling and heating problems as we do. (We have horribly cold Chicago winters, I can assure you that they help cool our servers very little.)

      Surely, I reasoned, with the amount of time they took to set up that scam and avoid authorities, they could have gotten a job like I have and done something good for even more cash--but, that's my naïve American attitude for you.

      The truth is that most of those who have the willpower to do something "good" for even more cash, also have the will to go where the dollars are. Which means that many of them immigrate to other countries rather than hang around in Russia. With Moscow's economy booming, that may eventually change. But for now, Russia has a difficult time holding on to their talent. That talent that they do hold onto may feel their talents underappreciated in the nascent Russian tech economy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by duffbeer703 (177751) *
        The top coder stuff is showing you that the Russians are much better at math.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        I hope you realize that Siberia is not a frozen wasteland...but it also covers more temperate climates....

        Most of Siberia is defined in climate terms as temperate continental. In fact the "most continental" temperate on the face of the earth. Which means that it can get above 30C in mid summer in the same place where you have -30C in mid-winter. So you still need good airconditioning for any high tech industry facility.

        As far as talent, I bet that there is a considerable talent left in Russia for any ant

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cyberax (705495)
        When I first visited Novosibirsk it was about -40C (-40F for the Americans :) ). Not that I was surprised - I live in Russia, but in area with a little bit more mild climate (we usually have only a few days per year with -30C, generally it's about -15C in winter).

        But still, it may be a little bit extreme for the rest of the world. Besides, Novosibirsk is not very close to the European countries or the USA.

        As for Technoparks (Tech parks), Putin is going to do a right thing (IMHO). Government is funding devel
      • by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <[mdinsmore] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @11:47AM (#18502133) Homepage Journal

        They'll probably be in a building not much different than those found here in America. Which means that they'll have the same cooling and heating problems as we do. (We have horribly cold Chicago winters, I can assure you that they help cool our servers very little.)

        Well, that might be due to poor design. I read an article about a data center built in Minneapolis, which can also be terribly cold. The Data Center made use of "environmental cooling" ie sucking in cold outside air. The DC operator bragged that he didn't need to run his chillers at all for 3 1/2 months of the year; that he used the excess heat to warm the offices, and if those got too warm he warmed the loading dock. In fact, often the incoming air was too cold so it had to be prewarmed first (also from the excess temp of the servers themselves). You might consider making better use of the natural cooling temps to help with your DC, it's the latest thing in DC design.

        I wouldn't be surprised at all if DCs in Siberia were going to attempt to do this also, provided that Siberia is truly that cold.

        • I wouldn't be surprised at all if DCs in Siberia were going to attempt to do this also, provided that Siberia is truly that cold.

          I have never been there personally, but by all accounts from Napoleon [wikipedia.org] onwards the Russian winters, and Siberia winters in particular, are bitterly cold.

          BTW: to expand on your efficient building design ideas I was just thinking that maybe instead of using all of the heat from the servers to preheat their own cooling air, you could shunt some of that heat into a Sterling Engi [wikipedia.org]
      • by Black-Man (198831)
        I dunno... quite a few place where I have worked, "cowboy coders" were held in high esteem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Surely, I reasoned, with the amount of time they took to set up that scam and avoid authorities, they could have gotten a job like I have and done something good for even more cash--but, that's my naïve American attitude for you. The job market probably doesn't exist there where they live.

      Good jobs exist in Ukraine, but many of the people there have a "live for today, screw tomorrow" mindset, which is why they do things like this. They have learned that tomorrow may never come, so you better get wha
    • On an offtopic note, I used to "cool" my computers in Minnesota by placing them next to the window during the winters, I'm certain you could cut down cooling costs in Siberia using similar strategies. Precisely. Overclockers are flocking to Siberia in droves. I hear they're breaking records with standard air cooling, and as an added bonus, there are several weeks out of the year where they don't have to put up with that pesky sun!
    • by doom (14564)

      It's long been known that Russia [wired.com], the Ukraine [slashdot.org], Poland, etc. contain a vast wealth of programming talent. Look at the rankings of the world wide programming contests [slashdot.org]. Unfortunately, with their dismal economies, these talents are often used for ill rather than good [slashdot.org]. I, myself, have two anecdotal stories of my friend's user accounts being hacked by unknown parties in the Ukraine. All in the name of 50 USD.
      Why?
      Surely, I reasoned, with the amount of ti

    • Yes, there is a dearth of programming and technical talent in Russia, and there seems to be some of that happening in Siberia.

      However, commercialization requires:
      • strong property rights [Silicon Valley (check), Russia (????)]
      • access to markets [Silicon Valley (check), Russia (????)]
      • access to capital [Silicon Valley (check), Russia (????)]

      I've seen other countries try and build their own Silicon Valley, but ultimately, if there is talent (which there usually isn't), there is either cor

  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:20AM (#18500977) Homepage Journal
    To anyone who thinks that Silicon Valley is going to show up elsewhere in the world, I highly recommend reading the following essay by Paul Graham:

    Why Startups Condense in America [paulgraham.com]

    Among his points, there is one in particular that (I think) gets overlooked the most. His seventh point, "America Is Not Too Fussy" is really a key issue. Like it or not, many Amercian startups bend the rules to find the most expedient solution to getting into business. 95% of the time, this bending of the rules is harmless, and actually benefits society. However, many countries would simply enforce their regulations to the point where that startup would never exist. I find his point to be amazingly enlightening.

    Take a gander at his article, then come back to the matter of the Siberian Silicon Valley. Does Siberia have the infrastructure? The desire? The willingness to bend the rules? The lack of a police state? Free and open immigration? Cross pollination of employees between companies?

    I think you'll find that many of these items exist there, but many do not. Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley because it has all of those things in spades. Now if only it didn't cost a bloody fortune to live there. :-P
    • by TheMeuge (645043)

      Does Siberia have the ... willingness to bend the rules?
      I don't think you've ever been to Russia.
      • Normally I'd agree with you. In this particular case, though, I think Putin is going to accidently squash it. He's building a brand new technology park to ensure the development of Russia's technology. Which means that no one is going to be running an independent operation out of there garage. (Nevermind that garages are exceptionally rare in Russia.) Thus there's no real opportunity for the inmates to run the asylum. It will be structure from the beginning, with clear goals in mind. The organic and self-or
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by avronius (689343) *

          ...there are still plenty of people trying to make their money or gain power off of the backs of others

          This is, very much, a capitalistic attitude. Almost every business exploits the resources around them. There are those who primarily explot physical resources (Abitibi exploits renewable trees, UK Coal exploits non-renewable coal), and those who primarily exploit intellectual resources (Microsoft exploits software developers, Intel exploits hardware engineers).

          The only real difference between what has happened in North America (and Western Europe) and what might happen in Russia? The amount of money that

          • This is, very much, a capitalistic attitude.

            Only if you consider Al Capone the poster boy for capitalism.
            • by avronius (689343) *
              The expression "on the backs of others" is a euphemism for exploitation.

              While it is true that Al Capone exploited many people, he did it illegally through coercion, intimidation, manipulation and violence.

              Perhaps I should have written:
              "The standard practice of trading currency for tasks is a hallmark of capitalism. The difference is all about how much currency you recieve for the task that you perform."

              Better?
              • While it is true that Al Capone exploited many people, he did it illegally through coercion, intimidation, manipulation and violence.

                Exactly. Now go back and read the paragraph you so obviously misunderstood.

                Perhaps I should have written:
                "The standard practice of trading currency for tasks is a hallmark of capitalism. The difference is all about how much currency you recieve for the task that you perform."

                Better?

                Not in the slightest.

                • by avronius (689343) *
                  I did not misunderstand your paragraph. I did, however, choose to ignore your insinuation of corruption. I will speak to it now.

                  As for enforcement of regulations, Russia is actually very good at it. When you piss off the wrong person or end up on a list of people needing "protection", that is.

                  Russia is experiencing organized crime - some of which has close associations to the oligarchy. I do not suggest that this is a good thing. But they are not the only country to have experienced corruption during a period of great change. You can look at the United States, Mexico, China and others present and historical examples.

                  Sadly, the people that are victims of organized crime

                  • I did not misunderstand your paragraph. I did, however, choose to ignore your insinuation of corruption.

                    (raises eyebrow)

                    You realize that you're effectively admitting that you setup a strawman just to knock it down?

                    Having said *all of that*, I still warrant that people will sell their skills for money.

                    Of course they will. The issue is that Russia is not in a position to host a new Silicon Valley, not that people won't do any work. Programmers will get hired, and programmers will earn their living. But the fa

                    • by avronius (689343) *
                      I chose to comment on capitalism, rather than focus on organized crime. I do regret not including enough information in my original post to prevent the remainder of this thread.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The-Bus (138060)
      Think of it as a lofty, maybe unreachable goal. Of course you can't replicate Silicon Valley in Siberia. Some random town Wyoming can't decide to become "the next Tokyo" either. There's systemic problems in Russia that no amount of buildings, fiber, and computers will fix. But it's a start.

      And they've got land to spare, or so I hear.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        Of course you can't replicate Silicon Valley in Siberia. Some random town Wyoming can't decide to become "the next Tokyo" either.

        Dubai has gone from a quiet little emirate to the economic powerhouse of the Middle East in just forty years, with little but visionary leadership and can-do spirit (unlike neighbouring Abu Dhabi, Dubai's oil resources are meagre). I guess the lesson is, it's dangerous to claim a given place could never end up gaining prominence in a few decades' time.

        • It's mind boggling that Silicon Valley hasn't been expanded to Nevada, Arizona and other neighboring states. There is so much untapped resources in those states alone.
          • by Dahamma (304068)
            Actually, Arizona is basically becoming the customer support and QA departments for Silicon Valley's tech companies.
          • by bckrispi (725257)
            Intel, Motorola, American Express, Honeywell, General Dynamics, Allied Signal, PetsMart, Microchip and Medtronic (to name a few) have very large IT presences in Arizona . We just got a Google campus, and we're home to GoDaddy. Wells Fargo recently moved a lot of IT operations here, as labor is much cheaper here than in San Fransisco. In the mid 90's, there was talk of turning Phoenix into the "Silicon Desert". This idea deflated with the .com bubble, but the IT industry here is strong and growing steadi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by igny (716218)
      From Graham's article, Might there not be an alternate route to innovation that goes through obedience and cooperation instead of individualism?

      In my opinion there is. After all the Cold War was a competition between the two different ideologies, and no matter what you might think, Soviet Union did not lack innovation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SerpentMage (13390)
      I read the article and have to disagree. I would have agreed to the article pre-9-11-2001, but not anymore.

      Here is why:

      1) Sabarnes Oxly is making it harder for corporations to do business. You can argue about its merits or lack of, but it makes life more complicated.
      2) Immigration is becoming truly difficult in the US.
      3) Travel within the US is becoming downright ugly due to the overdone security constraints (eg SSSS on your ticket is the kiss of guaranteed delays and pains.)
      4) IP and patents are getting in
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)
      Well, I'm not sure what "bending the rules" means. But it helps a great deal if what rules there are are (1) documented, (2) rational and (3) fair.

      I'm not a big fan of the complacent notion that America succeeds because God made us better, whether God is and old guy in the sky or some kind of historical determinism that has finally created the perfect human disposition. Instead, I think that we got an early start on the idea of fair, open and impartial laws, which unlocked and attracted vast reserves of un
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @11:31AM (#18501885) Journal

        I'm not a big fan of the complacent notion that America succeeds because God made us better, whether God is and old guy in the sky or some kind of historical determinism that has finally created the perfect human disposition.
        Manifest Destiny as a political idea has been dead for a long time.

        The problem with Russia is that its political and legal systems are crap. The same with China.
        And yet China still manages to have top scientific researchers in every field -- and continues to liberalize both economically and politically. See this [stanford.edu].

        But any system whose priority is to keep the powerful in power will eventually find it convient to quash that talent.
        And how does that differ from the US? Economic power is being concentated in fewer companies and individuals, who will be more easily able to affect government -- we've seen it already. Will the pendulum swing back? I don't know, in the age of mass media, whether we can check the power of the few.

        What happens is that the friends of the government get their returns guaranteed by the exercise of state power.
        Again, how does this differ from the US? KBR. Diebold. ExxonMobil. Boeing. The ones who write the laws are the lobbyists for the companies that benefit from them.

        China, Russia, and the US are approaching each other in terms of politicoeconomic systems. The major difference still remaining is that of IP regulation and protection. If the rigid IP control system is doomed to fail (as many slashdotters believe) then China and Russia are poised to dominate -- since IP is relatively worthless in those countries, and is ignored almost at will. Seems to me that they would have a competitive advantage, in having hugely successful businesses in that climate already.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hey! (33014)

          Manifest Destiny as a political idea has been dead for a long time.

          But the attitudes behind it live on.

          Again, how does this differ from the US? KBR. Diebold. ExxonMobil. Boeing.

          Because the ideology that privatizing public functions automatically make them more efficient is hogwash. The government doesn't buy services like military logistical support from a preexisting market that has already established efficient equillibrium prices. So when it privatizes such a function it has to turn to a small group of

          • So when it privatizes such a function it has to turn to a small group of vendors capable of meeting government specifications and complying with (and sometimes exploiting) its bidding and accounting procedures.

            That is no different from when the US bids out huge contracts -- there is a very limited selection of companies from which to solicit bids. Hence KBR/Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq -- apparently there was no other company capable of fulfilling the contract. Or airplane contracts; only two com

          • by MikShapi (681808)
            >> But the bottom line is that the government remains above reproach or accountability.

            Your underlying assumption that this accountability is not only a good thing, but the lack of it is ultimately destructive.

            Now, in spite the fact that history tends to agree with this, it is still not a given. It may be circumstantial.

            Truth of the matter is that being an unaccountable government has its pros and its cons, which are in themselves, subject to fluctuation depending on the environment they're imposed in
        • by linguizic (806996)

          Manifest Destiny as a political idea has been dead for a long time.

          Yes manifest destiny as an explicit idea is in fact dead. However we still suffer from the hubris of the implicit idea of American exceptionalism and it takes several forms, the dominant one being that the US is God's chosen country and it is our role to liberate certain middle-eastern and central Asian countries from their evil rulers. If some form of exceptionalism weren't common among the populous, the lead up to the war wouldn't have

      • That's the problem with crony capitalism. In the long run, don't expect great things out of an economy where a sound investment always starts with courting the right officials.

        This is and always has been true, yet equally ignored purposefully whenever a city here in the USA wants "revitalize downtown" and the local press runs articles on the new mom and pop independent businesses and their travails against Wal-Mart and so forth, but mentions not at all the businesses that have always been there, but whos
    • Also, ask does Russia have universities with plenty of Jews. This article has a few quarky statements, but this one:

      The case of Germany is a strange one. The Germans invented the modern university, and up till the 1930s theirs were the best in the world. Now they have none that stand out. As I was mulling this over, I found myself thinking: "I can understand why German universities declined in the 1930s, after they excluded Jews. But surely they should have bounced back by now." Then I realized: maybe not. There are few Jews left in Germany and most Jews I know would not want to move there. And if you took any great American university and removed the Jews, you'd have some pretty big gaps. So maybe it would be a lost cause trying to create a silicon valley in Germany, because you couldn't establish the level of university you'd need as a seed.

      Is just out and out questionable. To think Germany's silicon valley may have been doomed to fail because they do not have good enough universities is one thing. But suggesting that the lack of any one specific identity, like the Jews, has anything to do with the quality of the university is just ludicrous and, in my opinion, borderline racist. If he was trying to make some point of general e

    • by Dahamma (304068)
      I haven't seen anyone touch on this one:

      Free and open immigration?

      It can't be overstated how important the immigration of a HUGE pool of talented engineers to the US from China, India, Canada, all over Europe, etc. has been to the growth and success of Silicon Valley. I'd estimate half the engineers I work with were not born in the United States. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why someone would move from their home country to the Bay Area (reasons that oviously very widely based on the individial and
      • by munpfazy (694689)

        I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why someone would move from their home country to the Bay Area (reasons that obviously very widely based on the individual and the country). But let's face it, very few of those reasons will ever convince anyone to move to Siberia.

        It's certainly true that, all things being equal, most people would probably choose San Francisco ahead of Novosibirsk.

        Given a choice between Sunnyvale and Krasnoyasrk, however, the decision becomes a bit harder. In a contest between Atlanta an

  • NOT Silicon Valley (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zoomcloud (445893) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:21AM (#18500989)
    Having lived for six years in Russia, and five years in Silicon Valley, I feel somewhat qualified to opine. There is a HUGE factor lacking in Siberia: Rule of Law. A hard working programmer or IC designer can expect to have his work (IP) *stolen* within one month of publication or commercialization. Russia does not observe copyright or patent law. Yes, they have a lot of highly intelligent people. I married one. Yes, they have some buildings and power stations. Unfortunately, it's not enough to build a strong information economy. Russia will eventually bring Rule of Law to their economy - out of necessity - but it won't be soon. Ydacha!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yada21 (1042762)

      a HUGE factor lacking in Siberia: Rule of Law. Russia does not observe copyright or patent law.

      Good for them! This will allow market forces to make their economy more efficient. I guess it's not obvious to most people here, so I'll explain how it works(1).

      If a company is using more resources (labor, gold) than it produces it's not adding value to the economy. This is expressed as profit's or in this case, a loss. Faced with theft/piracy firms will adapt their business processes, i.e. keeping staff's

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Silver Sloth (770927)
        So when a band of Hell's Angels have beaten you up and are busy gang raping your 12 yr old daughter that's fine, because they're obviously, by definition, 'more efficient'.

        The rule of law is for people who want to live with other people. That's why every successful society has one.
      • by clovis (4684) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:08PM (#18503219)
        We've heard this BS before. It doesn't work.
        Once again an example of theory versus actuality.

        We can test your hypothesis through observation. Make a list of countries where "rule of law applies" and a list of those for which the "rule of law" is secondary to rule of fist.

        List 1: Wussies: Follows Rule Of Law
        United States
        Western Europe countries
        Australia
        Japan

        List 2: Strongman: Uses Goons and Bribes to conduct business
        African countries
        Afghanistan

        You can list all the countries in the world and rank them according to how well they ascribe to the importance of the rule of law and rank them according to almost any measure of success and you can see the nearly one-to-one correlation. Get fancy and manova it if you want.

        My lists are short of course. They show the extremes and there's a continuum in between.
        Countries in list 1 would be chief among what you call the "wussies and Communists".
        Also list 1 is a list of the "richest, most powerful, capitalist and gets to have their way in almost everything".
        As for list 2, well "market forces" do override "rule of law" there.
    • by bberens (965711) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @11:58AM (#18502273)
      So what you're saying is that there's extensive opportunity for businesses based on open source and the 'software as a service' model to flourish to solve various business needs throughout the country and region? What it will not do is allow monolithic conglomerates to take over. Small and medium sized shops should be able to be fairly successful in this environment.
  • by mu51c10rd (187182)
    Does this make it a good thing to be banished to Siberia? If not, what are they saying about their high-tech workers?
  • by matt328 (916281) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:29AM (#18501089)
    You'd never have any problems cooling server rooms.
    • by ceeam (39911)
      Actually - climate is a factor, IMHO. When you have 10 months of cold weather outside (and 6-8 of them are outright freezing), when you have long winter evenings when there's nothing to do anyway, hacking prospers. In California it may be inverse (going out to heat from conditioned office?), but in good climate it's pretty hard to force yourself staying inside when the weather is so nice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xync (593460)
      The joke is good, but keep in mind that "Siberia" is a really big place. Everywhere in Russia east of the Urals qualifies which means 2/3 of the largest country on the planet is Siberia. Since Novosibirsk and Akademgorodok are in the southern part of that huge region, the summer temperatures get "hot" (80+ F), and since Akademgorodok sits next to a large lake, it's muggy to boot. Come July the people are going to want some temperature control (which is hard to come by), not just the servers.
  • SMAC (Score:5, Funny)

    by alexhs (877055) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:35AM (#18501161) Homepage Journal

    The movement towards tech is centered in Akademgorodok (Academy Town)
    Huh, are we talking about Russia or Alpha Centauri ? :)
  • Server Farm (Score:2, Informative)

    by jshriverWVU (810740)
    I've always wondered why someone hasn't put up a huge server farm in places like Alaska or Russia. From my underestanding a big "cost" is in the cooling. If you can recycle outside air to keep the place cooler that's a free resource.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      A few reasons.
      1. There is very little bandwidth available in Alaska.
      2. It costs a lot to build anything in Alaska.

      Back in the 30s and 40s a lot of Aluminium smelters where built in the Pacific North West and around Tennessee because of the cheap hydro power. I think you will see more data centers in the US moving to those locations. You have cheap power and nice cold rivers for cooling. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are already building some on the Oregon/Washington boarder.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zlogic (892404)
      Actually it may become too cold. -40C (which is a common winter temperature in a lot of regions) makes diesel fuel freeze and materials shrink, which is bad since every material shinks differently and things like heatsinks may break. And low temperature causes water to condense, which is just the same as dropping the server in a bucket. The result? Servers would need to be heated, replacing a cooling bill with a heating one.
      Not to mention that 3000+ km of fiber is extremely expensive.
      • by khallow (566160)
        That doesn't sound too bad actually. After all, the key problem is that you have a huge heat source which is hard to cool. That heat can be used to keep your other materials warm (eg, use some of the waste heat to keep your kerosene for the backup generators warm). With a large enough installation, you'll have heating problems anyway. The extra length of fiber is significant. 3,000km of fibre adds at least a 10 ms delay to signals. Also, you would need to pay someone to live and work in that environment. It
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      "I've always wondered why someone hasn't put up a huge server farm in places like Alaska or Russia. From my underestanding a big "cost" is in the cooling."

      Another big "cost" might be connectivity.



      Sorry to sound so smarmy, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity ;)
  • Really? (Score:2, Troll)

    by p0tat03 (985078)

    Because, you know, Siberia has that *awesome* weather, system of law, and quality of life that attracts highly skilled and talented people... It would more like be a digital gulag for arrested Russian hackers :P

    • That's funny. The most talented hackers I know can go for days without knowing what the weather is like.

  • Xatchoo krasiviya Sibirskiya dyevushka. Is that right?
    • by setagllib (753300)
      " ". Which you can reduce to " ", and it even specifies the gender. Russian is like that.
      • by setagllib (753300)
        Wow, way to completely not support UTF-8, Slashshit.

        Transliterated almost phonetically:

        "Hochu krasivuyu Siberskuyu devushku". Which you can reduce to "Hochu krasivuyu Siberyaku", and it even specifies the gender. Russian is like that.
    • Nastrovje! ... or something like that.
  • Given the excellent track record Moscow has exhibited in the past when it comes to use centralized planning to revamp the economy, feed their hungry, expand their ideology and beat America in the cold war, it is a cinch. Definitely the new venture will succeed. All Putin has to do is to order, "Innovate" and the Russians are going to innovate like gangbusters. Well, that is all the feedback Putin is getting for his bold new initiative. How can it ever go wrong?
  • We've had "Silicon Prairie" (Champaign, IL). "Silicon Alley" in New York. There's more I'm forgetting right now.

    Ultimately all of the talented people who live in places designated to be the next Silicon Valley end up moving to Silicon Valley! We live in a beautiful area and get paid better. Top talent won't stay in Siberia, or Champaign, when they can live in San Francisco.

    If there's any "Next Silicon Valley", it would be Los Angeles. Recently it seems that more of the interesting startups are in
  • In Soviet Russia, when things are down, you are sent to Siberia.

    In USA, when things are down, your job is sent to Siberia.
         
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by olyar (591892)

      Thank you! I was scrolling, and scrolling looking for the "In Soviet Russia" joke.

      I mean, this is Slashdot, and this article was just begging for it, and all these folks are having this serious discussion...

      People. We're losing our edge around here! First the jokes, then the serious discussion.

      Sheesh.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @11:33AM (#18501905) Homepage Journal
    I was born in Ukraine in the former USSR and lived in Yakutia (North East of Siberia) above the Arctic Circle for 6 years. I can tell you this: it's freaking cold in the winters. Of-course it can be a plus for development of more indoor activities, like computer programming.
    --

    By the way, here is something from the article that I think can work both ways:
    The low cost of rent, services and salaries - roughly one-fifth of Western prices - appeals, but so does a system that builds on the foundations of science to produce programmers. "None of our programmers in Novosibirsk are programmers by education," Intel's Chase says. "They are physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians. They are, first of all, scientists. Secondly, they learn how to program as an afterthought." - I am sure there are brilliant scientists among those people, but I cringe every time when I hear about the scientists turned programmers as an afterthought. They will not produce modular easy to maintain and understand code. They just can't. They will solve problems with their code though, I am sure, and probably this fact will substitute for a lot of problems in the code structure itself, but I had to maintain/fix code designed by people like that (HydroOne and Avema contracts are some of the examples,) the code will suck. But so what, the bad code and the cold weather are not the worst problems in Russia. The worst problems are these: the government that is unwilling and incapable to prevent crime against business-people, the government that actually feeds on the crime against business-people.

    Do not expect Russia to become a place where the next Silicon Valley will be born within the next three decades at least. The main problem is that there are no investors in their right minds who can expect reasonable return on investment, because their money can disappear in a flash and not even due to a bad business plan or bad coding, but simply because the local mayor's office will tell the owners that the building, where the people are working is not fire safe or water proof or bird shit proof or whatever the story is this week, and the business will be closed until large amounts of money exchange hands. Then the same story will repeat itself the next week. Oh, and the competition or whoever decides that they are competition will not bother trying to build a better product, they will just hurt/kill the business owners one by one if their demands for lots of money are not met, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Animats (122034)

      I was born in Ukraine in the former USSR and lived in Yakutia (North East of Siberia) above the Arctic Circle for 6 years. I can tell you this: it's freaking cold in the winters. Of-course it can be a plus for development of more indoor activities, like computer programming.

      Like Boston. Some years ago, someone from MIT was recruiting me for the Media Lab, and as we were walking across the campus to the T station, it was sleeting. He commented "There are fewer distractions out here". I got back on th

  • By Wikipedia's account [wikipedia.org], Academy Town seems more like the next Berkeley or Stanford to me: strong academic history, plenty of space and amenities, lots of young talent, good facilities, huge natural surroundings (check out arial photo). And it sounds like there was quite a bit of "rule bending" there (better rations, cottages instead of apartment blocks) during the Soviet era. It may not match Silicon Valleys' economic might, but it may surpass it in terms of creativity and innovation.
    • Believe it or not,in the 80s we lost an engineer to Akademgorodok. He went there to install some scientific equipment which took far longer than expected. Came back, explained that everything was dirt slow but it was OK, they had paid his salary for the extra period. Then they needed a service visit and he went...and never came back. He had met a very nice Russian woman scientist while over there, and she had persuaded him to take a research job and stay.

      The big problem is surely going to be, how the Hell d

  • Sheesh. And here I have been hinting to my boss that yes, I did take Russian in high school and college, just in case any cool business trip opportunities come up. I was, however, thinking Moscow or St. Petersburg, not Siberia! :(

    Ruuski yazik? Huh?

    - Necron69
  • Putin says: "Academgorodok will be next Silicon Valley... or else".
  • by stereoroid (234317) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @12:17PM (#18502547) Homepage Journal
    Or the next Dalian? Bangalore is booming despite its restrictions on immigration & emigration, hardware imports, and its flaky infrastructure. My company has a support center there, and some fairly epic problems sending hardware to India for internal use only (never mind resale).

    Manpower is also a problem; you'd think Bangalore would be awash with engineering graduates, and IIT is churning them out, but what happens when you need someone with actual experience? In my company's case we've been lucky with expatriates returning to India from the Middle East (mostly) and the USA (a few). We just don't find quality local candidates worth interviewing.

    Will Russia be any better, with its lack of internationally-recognised qualifications and standards? I fail to see how any Silicon Valley comparisons are worth considering, even as a joke.
  • "President Vladimir Putin has also taken note, backing the construction of a $650 million technology business district with $100 million in state funding for infrastructure."

    That torpedoes things. Throwing money at business districts et al to artificially inflate development results in mostly empty business districts, and a more likely than not depressed economy where built, while businesses happily locate to areas of low taxes, rule of law, and respected property rights. Russia's business climate is di

  • for something interesting.
  • This shouldn't really come as a surprise. The former Soviet countries have long been known to have a lot of programming talent available. Don't forget that scientists and engineering types were treated pretty well under the Soviet system and technology/R&D was considered strategic. it would make sense that some of the older talent is still around, and passed down to a new generation.

    Also, the stereotype of Russian organized crime controlling most of the phishing/conning scams out there is based on fact.
  • I'm a Russian software developer.

    Are they going to pay me more than I get in Moscow? I don't think so. So why should I bother?

    So here's your answer: no, it won't be the next Silicon Valley. Actually, it's not the first project of a kind either, there were a couple more [kommersant.com] already. So far, nothing had come out of this. Could it perhaps be because a "Silicon Valley" is not something the government can create just on its whim?

  • It's just a "popil" -- this new Russian word means getting profit from the government project without doing anything useful. Unfortunately NOTHING could help Russia to get out of economy shithole.

    Even today with sky-high oil prices our economy does not really improve. We have much more officials than whole USSR had and everything is too regulated to start a new successful business. If you run a business more than 30% of your profit is going into bribes, because otherwise government won't let you function.

  • Like there have been dozens of such articles since the dot.com boom.

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