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Global software development efforts have increased in recent years, and such development seems to have become a business necessity for various reasons, including cost, availability of resources, and the need to locate development closer to customers. However, there's still much to learn about global software development before the discipline becomes mature. This special issue aims to assess the gap between the state of the art and the state of the practice. It presents five articles that cover various aspects of global software development, including knowledge management strategies, distributed software development, requirements engineering, distributed requirements, and managing offshore collaboration. A Point/Counterpoint department discusses whether global software development is indeed a business necessity.This article is part of a special issue on Global Software Development.