Why the data sovereignty push will require complexity and cost controls

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The recent announcement from AWS outlining its plans to set up a European cloud service to address data sovereignty concerns among EU customers, is a sign of the times. As Accenture says in its recent report Sovereign cloud comes of age in Europe, data sovereignty has gone viral.

Businesses recognize the need to address it, with 41 percent of them claiming data compliance and security as a top barrier to achieving expected cloud value. Understandably, organizations want the flexibility and scalability of the cloud, but they also need it to be cost-effective. If data management issues are undermining value then something is clearly not right.

Diverse cloud services

First things first, data sovereignty is a good thing. Protecting data by ensuring it is stored in the country of origin certainly helps with privacy and security measures. No one can really argue with steps taken to help protect data and this has given rise to a number of localised cloud services within the EU (not to mention the diversity of services in the US).

While the cloud hyperscalers have responded with EU-based cloud services, it’s easy to see how organizations are faced with some difficult choices. Public cloud has considerable benefits, but how many organizations really feel comfortable storing their critical data in a geography-specific public cloud environment?

The need to govern the data sprawl and build data-driven applications has caused a major shift in the number of databases organizations have had to manage in recent years. Where most firms used to have a single database now – given multiple workload environments – there are several databases.

This is multiplied by a growing shift to open source databases and also a need for developers to access databases for testing. It’s not uncommon to see organizations dealing with a variety of engines – Oracle, SQL Server, MongoDB, PostgreSQL and so on. This needs managing and typically requires a trade-off between convenience and control, as database administrators, in particular, are being stretched to breaking point.

The problem is exposed even further with data sovereignty compliance. How do IT teams ensure compliance across a wide range of database systems working across a variety of clouds and on-prem datacenters? Interestingly, Accenture research reveals that around 55 percent of organizations cannot always trace data from its source to its point of consumption. There’s also, says the report, a widespread lack of trust in data governance with just 9 percent saying they “completely” provide multiple secure interface options for users to consume data.

A new database reality

For any organization needing to not just address data sovereignty compliance but also privacy rules, staying on top of multiple databases demands a different approach, one that utilises automation and enables a unifying capability. This has led to the emergence of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), which aims to streamline day-to-day, time-consuming database management tasks. DBaaS also enables software development projects to be implemented quicker, ensuring improved services and reduced time-to-market across an organisation.

On another level, hybrid multi-cloud DBaaS provides a cloud operating model, while still allowing customers to retain full control of their data estates through cloud-like management capabilities and simplifies the processes required to make information available. It also means databases in multiple departments and locations can be combined into a single system. A single view of all databases within an organisation means a more manageable infrastructure and an increased ability to manage data.

Sovereign cloud

As Accenture finds, half of all European companies are already considering sovereign cloud as an option – 50 percent of European CXOs see data sovereignty as a top issue when selecting vendors. Plus, more than a third of surveyed companies see the potential for eventually moving between 25 percent and 75 percent of data, workloads or assets to a sovereign cloud.

Sovereign cloud is an umbrella term for a range of solutions that enable organizations to take control of the location, access and processing of their data – on-prem, at the edge, in a colocation facility or in a tailored public cloud. DBaaS enables organizations to make those choices without fear of falling down a rabbit hole. Given the potential cost and complexity implications, that can only be a good thing.