Tales about foreign customers and their features of work in Russia after the PD Law

    Colleagues from Europe asked to include these articles in a cloud service agreement.

    When the law on the storage of personal data in Russia came into force, foreign customers who had a local branch here began to massively knock on our cloud . These are large companies, and they needed a service provider in our country.

    Then I had not the best business English, but there was a feeling that no one could speak English from technical experts in the clouds. Because our position as a large well-known company, plus mine here, this basic English in answers to questions was clearly a cut above the other offers on the market. It was then that competition between Russian cloud providers already appeared, but in 2014 there was simply no choice. 10 out of 10 contacting customers chose us.

    And around this moment, customers began asking us to prepare very strange documents. The fact that we do not pollute nature and will despise everyone who pollutes. The fact that we are not corrupt and will not give hands to corrupt officials. The fact that our business is stable, and we give a grudge that in five years we will not get anywhere from the market.

    First features

    Then we all poured letters about the technical advantages of the cloud and infrastructure, but it turned out that few people needed it. It was important for everyone whether we were a large company, whether we have built processes for operating in data centers (and how well they are built), who stands next to large customers, and whether we have world certificates. Even if the customer did not need even close PCI DSS, looking at what we have, they nodded graciously. The second lesson is to collect pieces of paper and awards, they mean a lot in the USA and a little less in Europe (but still they are quoted much higher than ours).

    Then there was a deal with one very large client through an integrator intermediary. At that time, I still did not know how to sell correctly, I just tightened up business etiquette in English, not understanding how important it is to issue all the services in one package. In general, we did everything not to sell. And they did everything to buy. And in the end, after regular gatherings for beer with their director, he took and brought a lawyer, said: these are small formalities from the end client. We joked about the weather, he says: there will be a couple of small edits, let's contract.

    I gave our model contract. The lawyer brought three more lawyers. And then we looked at the contract and felt like joons at the time of a serious review of the year of work. Approval took four months of their legal department. The first iteration they sent without looking seven huge PDFs with text in curves without the ability to edit at least something. Instead of our five-page contract. I timidly asked: but not in an editable format? They are like this: “Well, here are the Word files, try it. Maybe you can do it. ” Each edit is exactly three weeks. Apparently, this is the limit of their SLA, and they sent us a message that it’s better not to do that.

    Then they requested an anti-corruption document from us. Then in the Russian Federation it was already familiar in the banking sector, but not with us. Wrote, signed. What is surprising, then the company had such a document in English, but it was not yet in Russian. Then they signed the NDA in their form. Since then, almost every new customer brought a non-disclosure agreement in its form, we already have about 30 variations.

    Then they sent a request for "sustainability of business development." For a long time we tried to understand what it was and how to compose it, we worked according to patterns.

    Then there was the code of ethics (as a result of the work of the business, you cannot cut children out, offend disabled people in a data center and so on).

    The ecology that we are for the green planet. We called up inside the company, asked each other if we were a green planet. It turned out for the green. This is economically justified, especially in terms of diesel fuel consumption in the data center. No more places of possible harm to the environment were found.

    This has introduced several important new processes (we have followed them since):
    1. It should be possible to regularly measure or calculate the energy consumption of hardware or services and send reports.
    2. For the hardware installed on the sites, you need to fill out and regularly update the list of hazardous substances when the hardware changes or is updated. This list should be sent to the customer for approval before any changes, updates or installations are completed.
    3. All hardware at any site under the contract must meet the requirements of the European Union Directive No. 2011/65 / EU on the restriction of harmful substances (RoHS) in IT products.
    4. All worn-out or replaced hardware under the contract should be recycled by professional companies capable of ensuring environmental safety during the recycling and / or disposal of such materials. In the European Union, this means compliance with Directive 2012/18 / EU on the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment.
    5. Email hardware waste at all stages of the supply chain must comply with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (see www.basel.int ).
    6. Recycled site hardware must support traceability. Processing reports should be submitted to the customer upon request.

    The quality of services (SLA) and the order of interaction (protocols, technical requirements) have already been signed as usual. Nearby was a security document: colleagues wanted to roll patches and update anti-virus databases and the like in 30 days, for example. The documented procedures of forensics and other things are shown to the customer. Reports of all incidents are sent to the customer. ISO are passed.


    The era of a developed cloud market has come. I learned English and was able to speak it fluently, learned the etiquette of business negotiations in detail, learned to understand the hints of foreign customers. At least part. We had a package of documents that no one could find fault with. We redesigned the processes to suit everyone (and this turned out to be a very important lesson at the time of PCI DSS and Tier III UI Operational certifications).

    When working with foreign clients, we often don’t see people at all. Not a single meeting. Just correspondence. But there was a customer who made us attend weekly meetings. It looked like a video call with me and 10 colleagues from India. They discussed something among themselves, and I watched. For eight weeks they did not even connect to our infrastructure. Then I stopped getting in touch. They did not connect. Then the meetings were held with fewer participants. Then calls began to be made without me and colleagues from India, that is, they passed in silence and without people.

    Another customer asked us for an escalation matrix. I added an engineer: they say, first to him, then to me, then to the head of the department. And they had 15 contacts on different issues, and each with three steps of escalation. It was a little embarrassing.

    A year later, another customer sent a security questionnaire. There are only 400 tricky questions, fill out. And questions about everything: about how the code is developed, how support works, how we hire staff, what kind of firing. This is hell. We saw that certificate 27001 would suit them instead of this questionnaire. It was easier to get.

    In 2018, the French came. We are talking at some point on Tuesday, and on Wednesday - the World Cup match in Yekaterinburg. About 45 minutes we discuss the issue. We discussed everything, decided. And so I am at the end: why are you sitting in Paris? Your tournament will be won here, and you are sitting. They got hooked. There was a total rapprochement. Then they just broke emotionally. They say: get us a ticket to the field, and tomorrow they will come to the magical city of Iekaterinburg. I didn’t get a ticket for them, but for another 25 minutes we were talking about football. Then all communication didn’t go according to the SLA anymore, that is, everything was under the contract, but I directly felt how they speed up the processes at home and do everything first of all for us. When the French provider was burning on the project, they called me every day, it did not break them off. Although there are rumors that they are very formal gatherings.

    Then on other communications, I began to track what worked the same way. Many are not worried about how to get out and where: this is us - from the office. And they can either bark a dog, or run off the soup in the kitchen, or a child crawls up a cable to gnaw. Sometimes someone simply disappears from a meeting with a scream. It happens that you are hanging out with a stranger. If you don’t know what to say, it’s about the weather. Almost everyone enjoys our snow. Some say they’ve already seen him once. Talking about snowy Moscow became smalltalk: this does not affect the deal, but reduces communication. After him, they begin to speak less officially, and that's cool.

    In Europe, they treat mail differently. If you go somewhere, then do not answer. If you were on vacation until yesterday, you might not be looking for a month, then: "Old man, I just returned, I’m raking." And it’ll disappear for another two days. Germans, French, Spaniards, English - if you see an answer, you always wait, no matter what the end of the world.

    And the last feature. The difference between their safety guards and ours is that it is important for ours that all requirements are formally fulfilled, and that processes dominate in them, that is, they pay attention to best practices. And we always have to show by train that all points are perfectly observed. One Frenchman even came to get acquainted with the processes and documents of the data center: we said that we can show politicians only in the office. He arrived with a translator. We dragged a bunch of politicians on paper in folders in Russian. The Frenchman with a lawyer-translator sat, looked at the documents in Russian. He took out the phone, selectively checked: either he was given what he was requesting, or Anna Karenina. Probably already encountered.


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