What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
EDA in Moscow: Business as Usual, the Glue that Binds
August 7th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Ten years ago, numerous hardworking folks in EDAC struggled long and tenaciously to get EDA software removed from a host of restricted-overseas-commerce lists. For those efforts several members of the EDAC community were honored, while sighs of relief were breathed that the industry would not be foolishly restricted by the U.S. Government from exporting their agnostic-to-end-use software.
After all, why would electronic design software have anything to do with communications, avionics, surveillance, ground-based mechanized weaponry, or surface-to-air missile guidance systems, let alone a host of other electronic junk? ‘Just because we made it, doesn’t mean we want it to be used by the bad guys for evil purposes,’ the EDA industry said. And added, ‘Heck, we just produce the stuff. We’re not responsible for how it’s used.’
Of course, that’s not to say that restrictions and guidelines for international commerce have not applied to both EDA and IP. In September of last year, I attended an evening seminar hosted by EDAC that, thanks to the articulate intelligence of Cadence Group Director for Export Compliance and Government Relations Larry Disenhof, outlined in detail the complexities and convoluted guidelines that business folks in the United States must adhere to if they want to stay legal and in business when participating in overseas trade.
It all seemed highly confusing and fraught with the dangers of inadvertently operating outside the lines of what the U.S. Government considered appropriate behavior. Nonetheless, Disenhof offered hope that if companies paid close, close attention to the shifting sands of international relations – pretty much on a daily basis – they would be okay when it comes to obeying the law.
Now fast forward to 2014, and watch as the world begins to unravel. Somewhere between the referendum-legitimized annexation of Crimea in March and the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July, the U.S. and the EU decided it was no more Mr. Nice Guy when dealing with the ultimate Mr. Tough Guy. And he responded this week by saying, ‘You can’t hurt me by imposing sanctions on my banks and some of my one-percenters, or limiting access to investment capital, as much as I can hurt you by imposing import sanctions on your food products.’
According to an online article I found published in Pakistan’s Business Recorder, these Russian-imposed import sanctions will impede approximately $9 billion dollars worth of food exports from the EU, and virtually no food exports from the U.S. as we apparently do little-to-no produce business with Russia.
So far, in other words, the fight’s been over banks, overseas investments, and produce – and natural gas. This last commodity continues to flow to the EU from Russia for obvious reasons, but that discussion’s for a different blog.
For this blog, the question is: When does the fight get to EDA and IP? As relations between the ‘West’ and Russia continue to deteriorate, when will we see Russia prohibit the import of EDA software and silicon IP?
Surely, if you’re still reading, you’re chuckling. Indeed that would be the only sane response to such an apocalyptically rhetorical question, for 4 reasons.
First of all: Years ago, a very senior leader in EDA told me that he could, at that time, stand on just about any street corner in Moscow and buy for 10 bucks the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars worth of EDA software, there was so much pirated software awash in black markets around the world at that point. Why he specifically mentioned Moscow is hard to explain, taken out of context, but the image stuck with me.
Has that situation changed? I doubt it and believe that still today, Russia imposing import sanctions on American or EU-made EDA and IP would be unnecessary. The stuff would be available anyway, just for a lot less money.
Second of all: The U.S. Government was convinced way back in 2004 that EDA software is not worthy of harsh export restrictions; hence all the awards, kudos, and sighs of relief. I’ve looked closely at various government websites that explain such restrictions in the last several weeks, and can see no significant changes since last September when I attended Disenhof’s talk.
Third of all: The EDA and IP industries are scattered all over the friggin’ world, with interlinked offices that span the globe, in places like Brazil and China and Vietnam and India and Pakistan and France and Malaysia and Germany and Korea and Scotland and Singapore and Armenia and the U.S. and Abu Dhabi and Spain and Egypt and Israel and a host of other countries that barely tolerate each other, but continue to do business with each other, frenetically and unendingly.
Finally: After posting an admittedly fretful piece about EDA in Moscow back on May 1st, I rechecked the links I had in that blog this past week and found them all to be still completely current – Synopsys is still advertising for an FAE in Moscow, Mentor is still advertising for a software developer in Moscow, and Cadence still has an office in Building 4, Ordynka Street 44, in Moscow.
So, it’s my considered opinion that this is how it’s going to go: The U.S. will continue to not like Russia, and Russia will continue to return that sentiment in spades. Meanwhile, the EDA and IP communities – those far-flung empires of software and VPNs and design services and PDKs and DRCs and emulators and simulators and implementors – will continue to act as if nothing has happened, or is happening.
The world will continue to spin on its axis, and those of you involved in international trade will continue to fly to your next meeting, be it in Moscow or anywhere else, and attempt to overcome your jet lag enough to show up on time wearing a pressed shirt and a spotless tie, and work hard to close the deal. You’ll shake hands when the thing’s a success, share a meal with your customer, and agree to meet again soon.
In so doing, you’ll serve as an astounding glue that will continue to keep the world in one piece for just a little longer. Indeed, perhaps the only glue. Carry on?
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