The Russian government may take over the IT resources of companies that have departed the country due to its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The country's public sector faces an acute computing shortage due to sanctions, and is also considering taking up additional space in Russian-based commercial data centers.
The government may have as little as a month and a half of data storage supplies on hand. It is exploring potential emergency measures, with the Ministry of Digital Transformation holding a meeting with executives from Sberbank, MTS, Oxygen, Rostelecom, Atom-Data, Croc, and Yandex.
Much of that storage is used for Russian 'smart city' surveillance efforts.
Russian business publication Kommersant reports that authorities are preparing to buy out all the capacity at commercial data centers (potentially including IT already contracted out), and take over the IT resources of companies that have announced their withdrawal from Russia.
The country has already shown a willingness to take over the assets of departing companies - with McDonald's departing, the restaurants are being relaunched as 'Uncle Vanya,' a new company with a logo based on the iconic Golden Arches of McDonald’s.
With Russian businesses also impacted by sanctions, and companies like AWS not serving new customers in Russia, and others like Equinix ending all Russian business, those companies are also seeking more local data center space.
Telco MTS said that the number of companies seeking to move to its cloud platform increased tenfold over a typical week. MegaFon said it increased fivefold. Linxdatacenter said that there has been "a lot of... migration of data and IT systems from various foreign cloud platforms to Russia."
But these companies are also struggling - chipmakers and server companies are pausing all sales to Russia, even for companies that are not sanctioned. Banks are not issuing loans, and prices for what can be found in the country have skyrocketed.
With all this, the amount of overall available compute and storage will decrease, just as the government looks to seize supplies. This is expected to initially mean non-critical services like the entertainment sector will suffer.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Digital Development proposed rolling back one of the requirements of the "Yarovaya Law." Telecoms companies will no longer be told to increase their storage capacity of user information by 15 percent, and will not be forced to store video traffic.
Yet another option would be to turn to Chinese cloud providers and IT system sellers. However, this is fraught with issues.
There are unconfirmed reports that Huawei, itself sanctioned by the US, has suspended server sales in Russia as it evaluates the situation. China as a whole has also not whole-heartedly backed Russia, and it is not yet known how much it will support the country.
Finally, moving to a Chinese cloud provider puts Russian government and citizen data in the hands of a foreign nation.
But, should sanctions persist, the nation will be left with less compute, and even fewer options.