Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

Three levels of import substitution: Workplaces, infrastructure, and software

According to Yale University’s updated list of international companies doing business in Russia cited by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, about 50% of more than 1,000 foreign software vendors have left Russia due to sanctions since the spring of 2022; 14% have scaled back their operations, and 16% have taken a wait-and-see attitude. A significant part of the companies that have ceased operations in Russia offer IT-related products and services, including accounting software.

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

The departure of foreign suppliers of specialized software such as SAP, Intuit, IBM, and others has forced Russian businesses to switch to domestic solutions. Moreover, the transition had to be smooth and have a minimal impact on work processes, so as not to slow them down.

Russia launched an import substitution effort in the software industry as soon as the first sanctions were imposed. The process has generally gained momentum over the past 18 months. However, despite the across-the-board progress, there are bottlenecks that require a targeted approach.

Workplace migration, or software for software

It is not easy for a large organization with hundreds or even thousands of workplaces, personal computers and servers to replace Western software with a different product all at once. The strategy that works for small companies, where a system administrator comes and manually installs the new product on each of the 5-10 user computers and transfers all user data to the new system before uninstalling the old programs, is no good at bigger offices.

When it comes to large commercial companies or government agencies, it is essential to have software replacement tools that allow batch installation of new software across the corporate network, or group by group, with the entire process hardly taking more than a few hours.

In other words, you need software for quick deployment of software on a mass scale. And domestic IT developers have recently come up with such targeted solutions.

Scanning dozens of computers in minutes

Described as “a special solution for import substitution at workplaces,” such software can perform a general workplace inventory – that is, survey the hardware and software configuration of several dozen computers on the system – and roll out a complete report on all the hardware and software functionality.

This stage is followed by the process of migrating the new software to replace the previously installed one. It takes about three hours and a half and just one specialist to change the operating system on about 50 computers from Windows to Astra Linux, for example. Other applications responsible for a particular functionality can be replaced at the same time.

After the new software is installed, the system can take over the remote management of the organization’s mixed IT infrastructure, the installation of new systems and updates, and the management of user access rights, freeing system administrators from routine tasks.

Switching to Russian infrastructure software

One of the important goals of software import substitution is to embrace domestic infrastructure software, including software for servers, data processing centers and various network operation platforms, to name a few.

As of now, there are platforms developed by Russian programmers already in use for this purpose. Each platform constitutes a system of basic digital services for managing IT infrastructure on any Russian operating system.

This type of software was successfully adopted in 2023 – in particular, by government agencies in the Irkutsk Region for testing, analyzing and selecting domestic server solutions. The testing lab will operate in the region on a permanent basis. A similar initiative provided many Russian Railways workers with centralized management through access to the holding’s infrastructure components.

1С variations: Import substitution for Russian back offices

Replacing specialist back-office software is the crucial aspect of software import substitution in Russia today. Back offices need alternatives for mail servers, accounting and HR solutions in lieu of SAP. The most common options include upgraded 1C solutions developed in Russia.

The 1C solutions have been recommended to government agencies and major corporations in addition to the workplace migration and network infrastructure services mentioned above.

Russian software developers can help companies interested in specialist software to make a good choice of hardware, for example: buy and set up a server, install new software, replace boards to meet new task-related requirements, etc.

To summarize, regardless of who needs a computerized workplace – be it an accountant, a designer, a proofreader, a crane operator, or a teacher, it is possible to switch from Western to Russian or non-Western software or hardware.

By Svetlana Bormatova, CEO of Greenatom Simple Solutions (part of Rosatom State Corporation)

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