Russia's Sberbank building domestic cloud solutions as sanctions hamper smart devices

The logo is on display in an office of Sberbank in Saint Petersburg
The logo is on display in an office of Sberbank in Saint Petersburg, Russia April 19, 2022. REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER/Files

May 6 (Reuters) - Russia's top lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) is developing fully domestic cloud infrastructure, it said on Friday, after reporting issues with some 'smart home' device functionality due to problems with its foreign cloud partner.

The state-owned lender, which fell under Western sanctions imposed over Russia's actions in Ukraine, has been developing its non-financial businesses, including technology and cloud services, in an attempt to combat the industry-wide trend of shrinking margins.

Despite public assurances that sanctions were having a limited effect on its operations, the bank started reporting issues in the functionality of smart home devices, such as lamps and sockets, in mid-April.

Other gadgets, including its TV streaming device and advanced smart speaker, are still working as normal.

SberDevices on Thursday blamed the problems on the cloud infrastructure provided by a partner, which it later named as Tuya (TUYA.N), a Chinese Internet of Things cloud platform.

"We created a hybrid solution based on Tuya's own cloud platform and infrastructure," a SberDevices representative told reporters.

"At the same time we have been developing an autonomous solution and now we are continuing active work on infrastructure that is completely independent from foreign services, based on our own cloud."

Tuya did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia's foreign ministry last week acknowledged the risk of secondary action that Chinese companies could face if they help Russia circumvent sanctions, but said it still expected cooperation between the two countries to increase.

Sberbank said upgrades would include having SberCloud servers located in different regions across Russia.

With access restricted to already strained global supply chains, Russia has increased efforts to develop its domestic technology industry, to better shield itself from any hardware or software shortages.

Sberbank said it was continuing to work on resolving the problems and has advised retailers to suspend sales of its smart home devices for now.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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