India's Reliance gets into cloud infrastructure manufacturing

Google's local pal enters JV with contract kit-maker Sanmina – storage and appliance supplier to the stars

Indian conglomerate Reliance, which among its many activities is Google's partner for an India-only cut of Android, is getting into contract manufacturing of datacenter products.

The vehicle to make this happen is a joint venture with Sanmina – a US-based concern that's a big name in contract manufacturing of datacenter kit. The company produces storage products, both under its own "Viking" brand and as the invisible entity behind big brand arrays. Software-defined networking outfit Pluribus used Sanmina to build its network computing appliance.

Sanmina already has facilities in the Indian city of Chennai, from where it works on tech products addressing the networking, storage, general compute, and semiconductor markets.

The JV will see Reliance take a 50.1 per cent stake in the venture and contribute up to $200 million of capital to enable growth and create a state-of-the-art "Manufacturing Technology Center of Excellence" that will serve as an incubation center to support the product development and hardware start-up ecosystem in India, as well as promote research and innovation of leading-edge technologies.

The joint entity will prioritize high growth markets such as 5G, cloud infrastructure, and hyperscale datacenters.

Akash Ambani, a director of Reliance's telco arm, Jio, said the JV is aimed at "meeting both Indian and global demand."

Which is very on-brand for India, which is currently balancing its drive to lure the world's tech manufacturers to its shores with a self-sufficiency drive called "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" that aims to replace imports with locally made products.

India's government has offered generous subsidies to reach those goals, and big global tech companies have signed up. Dell plans to build servers in India, as does Foxconn, which also signed up to builda semiconductor factory.

The Sanmina/Reliance deal does not, however, appear to involve government money. Reliance is providing that and Sanmina is providing its existing facilities, which it will continue to operate.

The deal goes some way toward explaining how Reliance will build the 5G platform it announced in 2020. Carriers that deploy 5G also need lots of servers. Reliance could therefore satisfy Jio's needs and make itself the most obviously patriotic supplier available to rival Indian carriers – and use all the success stories to promote its Sanmina-made products abroad. ®

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