The move aims to dispel fears of government surveillance
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has confirmed plans to launch its data centre in India, either in the later part of this year, or by early 2016. The announcement was made as the famed low-cost phone maker announced its first “Made for India” smartphone called the Mi4i, which is a 5-inch 1080p flagship device priced at Rs. 12,999 (US$204).
Xiaomi first talked about setting up a local data center to cater to domestic demand in October last year, seeking to address data security concerns of Indian authorities. The latest statement confirms the move, and also suggests a timeframe.
“We are still committed. We said by first half (of the year), we will have details ready. We are looking at launching it later this year or early next year,” said Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra (formerly vice president at Google) to India news agency PTI.
Xiaomi stands out from other phone makers thanks to its strategy of selling Android smartphones at close to cost price, relying instead on a rich ecosystem of cloud-based storage, digital services and features such as emoticons and an online theme store, as a way to generate revenues. This means that having the requisite backend servers and storage in place is significantly more important to Xiaomi than other phone makers.
The topic of data sovereignty is increasing in importance as governments and organizations in the region grapple with the demands of regulated markets and an increasing awareness and sensitivity over the physical storage location of data. On this front, the Government in Indonesia had drafted regulation 82, which prohibits financial data from being kept outside the country without prior approval.
Elsewhere, the sensitivity over data sovereignty may vary between organizations. For example, Simon Dale, head of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud for the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) regions, shared with us how one Australian customer is fine with its data being located outside the country for non-production purposes, but requires it to be within the country for production use. In Singapore, there is another customer happy to be hosted by SAP’s data center in Japan because it is fully owned by a Japanese parent.