Data Sovereignty, Data Locality, is it important to stay local?

I hear a lot from cloud providers that you should house your data locally, yet I also hear from the large hyperscalers based in the US that it doesn’t matter.

From experience, I believe that there are many benefits to staying local ranging from your data being more secure through to customers having a better user experience when running their applications.

Below I will go into detail on the following and why they should be factors that drive you to keep your data in a local provider like Zettagrid;

1) Data Sovereignty and The Patriot Act
2) Partially in Australia, partially overseas
3) Performance and Latency
4) Access to engineers and architects in the same state

Data Sovereignty and The Patriot Act

The Patriot Act is a piece of legislation created by the US government in response to the increased terror threat after 9/11. It gives the US government complete and unfettered access to your data if it or you have operations in the US through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Orders or a National Security letter.

If your business has sensitive data or your business just needs to guarantee that it cannot be extracted in such a manner then you must ensure you use a cloud provider that has NO offices or operations in the US.

For further information on the Patriot Act and its relevance to cloud providers then please read more here from the highly-regarded CIO website.

Recommendation

Stay away from cloud providers that are bound by the Patriot Act if you don’t want them to be capable of obtaining it.

Partially in Australia, partially overseas

When thinking about using either AWS or Azure you may assume that since they have Australian data centres your services will be in those data centres.

This is not true and many services from both providers are only on offer in the larger regions outside Australia. One such example of this is Office 365, it was released in Dec 2014 and many Australian businesses eagerly jumped on board. It later launched Office 365 in its Australian data centres but existing customers were not automatically migrated to the Australia data centres and even now some customers assume they are in Sydney when they are in Singapore instead.

This purpose here is not to say one region is better than another but if you deploy multiple applications into these hyperscalers then you may find that some is in Australia and other parts overseas. What will this do to your application and the user experience if certain parts are thousands of km away?

Recommendation

Think about how your applications operate and whether the cloud services you are deploying will all be in the same physical data centre or not.

Determine whether your application will still work as expected in this nature, then choose a provider or services that will cater for this.

Performance and latency

If your business currently runs in on premises hardware then chances are it’s in the same building as your users or close by in a data centre. What this means is that you generally have sub millisecond latency to your application stack and the environment is generally very responsive from a network perspective.

When you go to a cloud provider even though your data may still reside in Australia it could be on the opposite side of the country. Depending on where your offices are and what the application is, the addition of 3000km could have disastrous effects on the user experience and generally sour the businesses view of the cloud.

Recommendation

The general rule of thumb if latency might be a concern is to keep your applications in the same state as your users.

If your users are spread over Australia then house your applications in multiple states load balanced throughout the country too.

Access to engineers and architects in the same state

What happens if you are with either AWS or Azure and you need technical support? Well if you have the “Basic” support from AWS or the “Included with Azure” support then unfortunately you are not allowed to call or email requesting any technical support.

With local providers like Zettagrid you can not only call up anytime of the day or night for any level of technical support, you can also pop in and have a whiteboard session with an experienced architect and go through different problems or design scenarios.

Best of all, it’s free!

Recommendation

Unless you are an expert then use a cloud provider that gives you access to support for free.

Engage a managed services provider that does have the experience in the cloud.

Cost in the additional support such that it won’t be a shock when you go to use it and find out you are on a lonely cloud all by yourself.

In summary

Where your data is located is important from both a security and performance perspective. Ensure that when deploying applications to the cloud you keep aspects like data sovereignty, latency and performance of your applications in mind and choose a provider that meets those requirements.

References;
http://www.cio.com/article/2400264/government/the-patriot-act-and-your-data–should-you-ask-cloud-providers-about-protection-.html,
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-au/support/plans/
https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/compare-plans/

Luke Brown
Luke Brown is the Principal Technologist/Evangelist at cloud provider Zettagrid. He is passionate about all things tech and loves a good debate.

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