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Russia and China have both, of late, threatened western IT companies with difficult trading conditions or banishment if they can't prove their products are secure.

The reason for their ire is, of course, Edward Snowden's many revelations about US intelligence activities.

The response to his leaks have been widespread and fierce.

China has banished Windows 8, booted Symantec and Kaspersky from its approved vendor list, probed Microsoft, done nasty things to Qualcomm and pondered a ban on IBM.

It's also been suggested China's government is making it plain to local buyers that they shouldn't shop with the likes of EMC or Oracle, and instead prefer local vendors.

Russia's been belligerent too. Last week it asked Apple and SAP to drop their pants and reveal their source code. It's also taken a swipe at Google and social networks by passing a law insisting personal data about Russians user data be stored on Russian soil and threatened to create its own ARM CPUs and stop buying x86s.

Canalys Senior Analyst Nushin Vaiani says “This type of activity could have devastating impacts on the IT market in general and businesses may find themselves at the mercy of their local governments when making buying decisions.

But Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds told The Reg that if a nation eschewed a technology like x86 CPUs it would be shooting itself in the foot.

“When you go with an off-the-shelf ARM core it has a performance rating of one,” Gregory told The Register. The kind of customisation performed by a Qualcomm improves things to 1.5 and the likes of AMD or IBM get things to 2.5. Intel, he said, can get to a performance rating of six.

Russia, or another nation, could throw money and time at a chip design process, but would still end up behind commercial products. Whether Russia could tolerate operating inferior equipment is anyone's guess, but it is clearly not in its national interest to work with inferior computers.

Another Canalys analyst, Karissa Chua, says wholesale replacements aren't likely.

“It is highly unlikely that the Russian government will replace all IT products with Russian owned as they do not have the expertise to handle it on their own and it will take a long time to carry out a complete overhaul of their existing infrastructure,” she said.

Gartner's Reynolds says it may, however, make it easier for emerging software competitors, especially SaaS players, to win business behind the old Iron Curtain or the Great Firewall.

Canalys' Chua says Russia will try to make its mark in other ways.

“It is likely that there will be much stringent requirements when it comes to government procurement,” she says, and vendors aren't likely to enjoy the results.

“The impact tends to be greater in China and Russia as there are relatively more state owned enterprises which will be affected by the new regulations. Foreign vendors will have to work more closely than ever to ensure that they are complying with the individual governments’ regulations."

Those regulations won't just be about security. “One thing becoming clear is that countries are beginning to use technology as a political tool,” says Canalys' Vaiani.

China, in particular, has demonstrated that it is willing to pick winners. And by strongly encouraging local businesses to shop with local suppliers, it also gives Chinese businesses the chance to grow in a comfortable environment.

“China has a huge local market,” says Gartner's Reynolds. “That gives the likes of Lenovo a great platform to address the rest of the world.” ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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