Evgeny Makarin, Products and Solutions Team Leader, Linxdatacenter
Even back in spring of 2022, at the very beginning of big changes on the Russian IT market, experts forecast radical changes for the infrastructure segment. Let us see which predictions came true, to what degree and what we can expect next.
Made in China
One of the first and key forecasts concerned mass-scale occupation of the vacated IT hardware supply niches by China. This expectation did not quite come true. Wholesale supplies of Chinese servers, storage systems and network solutions have not begun yet, although the market is heading there.
This trend is demonstrated by numerous events and activities organized by Chinese vendors for Russian customers. Various schemes for bypassing the sanctions are also being arranged.
Например, некоторые местные игроки в рамках OEM-контрактов (контрактная сборка ИТ-продуктов под брендом вендора) стали чаще собирать решения иностранных производителей — по большей части китайских.
Departing to stay
Another forecast concerned extension of the lifecycle of equipment produced by Western vendors through localization of their support and maintenance teams. The practice of today shows that this is a viable solution even after termination of licenses sale and shutdown of official helpdesks.
Many IT integrators and service providers incorporated into their structure whole teams of specialists from vendors that left Russia. They expanded their portfolio with equipment support services, which are critical for the IT infrastructure of many large companies.
This allowed business to gain a lot of time for reconstructing their IT landscape in the most favorable conditions: without haste, overpaying or stressful moments that are typical for such projects of urgent overhaul.
It is worth noting that many companies with offices or affiliated companies located abroad receive support from Western vendors via foreign contracts. From the formal aspect, this does not violate the sanctions’ regulations and allows the business to continue using equipment in a habitual manner.
There were many talks about potential of used hardware in the spring of 2022, and today it is obvious that those forecasts became reality.
Used resources are, at a minimum, sufficient for supporting existing needs. The IT market in Russia is saturated with equipment of all kinds of manufacturers, considering that many began stocking up “just in case” back during the pandemic. The second wave of purchases happened in March-April 2022, and currently there is a lot of hardware accumulated in Russia.
As for its quality and functionality, the inevitable wear of equipment can be compensated, with consideration for contemporary tasks and requirements, with refactoring applications for maximum multithreading, along with horizontal scaling of resources.
Another factor stimulating the flourishing of used equipment is the prowess of specialists capable of repairing and even upgrading hardware, occasionally by “resoldering microchips”. There is quite a few of such craftsmen in Russia, extending the life of equipment in some companies for many years, and currently the demand for their services has increased manyfold.
With the high speed of product upgrades by IT vendors, many-years use of equipment that is lagging several generations behind the latest releases, is hardly a new practice for Russia or other countries.
In other words, this situation will not be very shocking for anyone.
What will be the long-term consequences of reliance on such schemes?
The main risk is the eventual turning of IT landscapes into a “patchwork” that will not always answer the requirements of big-scale digital projects implemented for business-critical tasks with a long-term perspective.
In my opinion, such concerns are exaggerated. For example, if reliability of a particular component is in doubt, fault-tolerance can be ensured by switching from the N+1 scheme to N+3 or more (where N is the necessary quantity of equipment items, and the following number indicates the quantity of components providing its backup).
Taking into account the price of used equipment and elimination of the cost of vendor’s support, the final cost should be reasonable even with the increased amount of backup hardware.
Looking into the future, I would say that the current situation is going to stimulate the forming of a new trend on the IT market: services and solutions aimed at extension of the hardware lifecycle.
Such projects are not implemented on a large scale so far because the issues of deficit are still being resolved, by inertia, with parallel import and import substitution. However, we are likely to observe occasional projects of this kind, including quite big ones, in the nearest future.
Another future trend: new IT architectures will be designed with consideration for maximum independence from foreign vendors’ products. Sooner or later business will have to start investing in the development of resident solutions.