Localization of data’s biggest threat/opportunity for data centers
"Think globally, act locally" has been a buzz-phrase for environmentalists and businesses alike for decades. But a series of political events in the United States is pushing governments and organizations around the globe to review data storage policies and keep information local, not offshore. Mammoth U.S. headquartered storage entities such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft is being called into question, with Europe making noise about an independent option.
Moving data locally isn't a new phenomenon. Reports of the National Security Agency (NSA) and its UK counterpart gaining access to commercial cloud-based data started in 2013 as former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released stolen internal documents to the world press. Revelations of targeted infiltrations of Google and Yahoo data hubs, along with efforts to tap into Apple and Yahoo data feeds, have only reinforced fears of monitoring by the United States.
Facebook and the rest of the Big Warehouses have been steadily building new data centers outside of U.S. boundaries. Part of this is pragmatic IT engineering; keeping data locally means less lag time for users and lessens the need for expensive long-haul bandwidth between continents. However, the European Union (EU) and its members have passed a series of measures on privacy and data handling that have accelerated the building of new data centers in Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Various "right to be forgotten" cases around the global are also driving more data localization since the industry hasn't built a magic erasure key as depicted in "The Dark Knight Rises" movie.
Various European governments have erected laws requiring their data stay in-country, rather than outsourced to a third-party cloud that may put information outside of the borders and reach of that nation's laws and regulatory framework.
A change in U.S. presidential administrations has led to Europe to contemplate deeper measures. Fears -- unfounded or not -- of erasure of U.S. climate data being erased by the Trump administration lead to independent measures to catalog and archive NOAA, NASA, and EPA data onto third-party servers both in the States and Canada.
European officials are talking about breaking their dependence upon U.S. cloud services as a strategic goal, similar to deploying the Galileo GPS network and Copernicus Earth observation network satellites to reduce reliance on U.S.-based systems, says SpaceIntelReport.
Data being generated by European satellite systems should be archived not on Amazon or Google, but on European-based and owned platforms. Already, 60,000 registered users are pulling one petabyte per month from an ESA Copernicus center, a number expected to grow as more satellites are added to the Copernicus fleet.
The European Space Agency and the European Commission have both issued formal documents for the development of new data platform to be operated by industry, viewing it as a way to bootstrap Europe into a significant cloud services provider competitive with U.S. firms.
Advantages being touted for an all-EU/European cloud service provider would include EU regulations on data privacy and data usage, transparency requirements and user opt-out options on the use of collected data.
Image from softwarestrategiesblog.com
How fast and rapid the localized data movement will occur is an open question. It took decades for Galileo and Copernicus to move from concept to reality while the political landscape could rapidly evolve over the next four years. Data center operators would be advised to figure out where they fit and how they can best take advantage of localization.