Over the past couple of years, several of the projects that I have worked on involved me working directly with people all over the world in a real-time basis. One project from last year involved some testing with SAP and we would have Germany, India, and Texas (me) all working directly together.
The technology that makes this possible is the same technology that allows me to work from home occasionally. The key is the Internet (Thanks Al!) that provides the backbone for worldwide high speed data network we all use. On top of this we have email, inexpensive VOIP based communication, and secure VPN based access to internal networks. We also have webex, live meeting, adobe connect, virtual rooms, and many other virtual conferencing / online meeting software solutions to enable sharing and collaboration. The final piece is the ability to remote desktop into windows and of course ssh into Linux systems.
One aspect that I feel very fortunate about, is the common language of English. At least in the technology world it seems that English is the default common language. It's a good thing that Texan is so close to English that most people can still understand me.
The only difficulty is being able to keep all of the time zones straight. I've found that the easiest way to do this is simply ask Google "what time is in it <insert place of interest here>".
I think that these occasional projects will become more of the norm, where people are wherever the people want to be, and work gets done by bringing them together in these globe spanning virtual teams.
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