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Satyam Computer Services Ltd. and Mainstay Partners LLC are worlds apart in geography and scale.

Satyam, a $1 billion application development and outsourcing company based in India, has operations in 46 countries and employs more than 20,000 people. Mainstay Partners, a management consulting firm based in Redwood City, Calif., has 10 employees. Nevertheless, the companies last month announced a global alliance.

Under the pact, the companies will evaluate customers’ information technology investments. Mainstay Partners specializes in IT investment management. The company conducts return-on-investment assessments for both technology providers and corporate buyers.

Mainstay also produces research reports, covering such technologies as enterprise resource management and grid computing.

For Mainstay Partners, the benefit of this alliance is self-evident: access to a worldwide service delivery network. Craig LeGrande, managing director and co-founder of Mainstay Partners, said Satyam possesses an abundance of resources “to scale this [consulting] work on a global scale.”

Worldwide service ranks as a key consideration for Mainstay Partners, whose biggest customer is Oracle. The consultant needed to expand its ability to serve customers beyond the company’s North American reach, LeGrande noted.

The companies have worked out a methodology and a process for global service delivery, and have already consulted to a couple of customers in the Asia/Pacific region.

So far so good, but any alliance can sputter once the initial euphoria wears off. Smaller firms face issues particular to them.

For example, boutique firms need to maintain visibility when partnered with much larger companies, noted Jeff Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, a Wellesley, Mass., consulting firm.

“They have got to be able to prove their economic value to the larger partner,” Kaplan said. “The only way to prove that is to show … they can generate dollars from existing and new customers.” If that doesn’t happen, the partnership “is going to have a tough time going anyplace,” Kaplan added.

However, Srinagesh Kumble, vice president with Satyam’s Business Solutions Group, said his company’s alliance with Mainstay Partners provides “the foundation for a really attractive joint-value proposition.”

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Kumble said Satyam has wanted to expand the consulting aspect of expanding its Oracle/PeopleSoft/SAP practice. He said the company has spent years trying to build a consulting capability to work with customers “in the business process layer.”

That’s where Mainstay Partners’ pursuit of high-end technology consulting comes into play. The game plan: The consulting firm advises clients on strategic IT issues and Satyam provides the implementation muscle to help those clients realize the strategic vision.

The companies “fit together quite well,” Kumble said. Shared customers provide another common bond. Both Satyam and Mainstay count members of the Fortune 500 among their customers. Kumble said the companies’ integrated effort will provide greater value to their shared clients.

While the initial focus of the alliance is on enterprise applications, Kumble said he sees the potential for tackling other technologies such as grid computing.

The Satyam/Mainstay alliance has a few things going for it: offerings that complement each other, common customers and a framework for delivering services. Consistency will be the ongoing challenge as the companies attempt to replicate their engagement model from geography to geography.