Cloud computing: a European walled garden?

Posted by Karen on Dec 8, 2015 12:00:00 AM
With the recent news Deutsche Telekom is launching a new public cloud solution – run out of its Germany data centres and billed as being the foundation for a “ secure European internet of things”, it looks increasingly likely that European companies are trying to create cloud solutions free of U.S. influence. Back in October, the European Court of Justice declared the Safe Harbor agreement invalid. The agreement allowed businesses in the EU to process people’s data in the United States. The agreement worked well for 15 years, but in the wake of the Snowden allegations there have been calls for people to have greater control over who has access to their data. Germany, the most vocal advocate for data privacy in the EU, has since started investigating how large organisations like Facebook and Google handle its citizen’s data. It’s been suggested that businesses wishing to adhere to European data protection laws now use or build data centres in the EU, but many are baulking at the cost of such a move. However, Microsoft has said that even if companies were to use European data centres, their customers could still see their data being accessed by U.S. authorities. To combat this, it entered into an agreement with Deutsche Telekom in October. By using its data centres, the company would be placing its customer’s data completely beyond the reach of the United States. As Gartner analyst, Carsten Casper, told the Financial Times: “I think Microsoft have come to the conclusion that they can’t get away from being a US company. I find that more honourable than others who try to move their data centres to Europe to appease customers, but how good is it to have data centres in those countries if you can access it from abroad with no particular problem?” Will EU cloud computing need to become a walled garden in the future? What’s clear is that people are far more concerned about the security of their data than they used to be. YouGov found that 72% of British adults were concerned about the security of their private information online and that 32% would willingly pay for increased data security. Another survey, by CIGI-Ipsos, found that, globally, 64% of people were more worried about online privacy than they were a year previously (the survey was conducted in late Oct-Nov 2014). There’s a clear demand for greater data protection, and businesses like Deutsche Telekom are stepping forward to cater to it. It will be interesting to see whether or not more cloud service providers enter into a similar arrangement to the Deutsche Telekom/Microsoft deal, or it they choose to set up data centres of their own.
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