Where should you store your data?

2016-03-24, 09:40 Posted by: Tony Hendrell

What can you trust in the IT sector? Where can you store critical data? If your own data hotel is full, should you build a new similar one next door? Or, could you go elsewhere when necessary?

These are questions that have been particularly topical for past few months. The cat and mouse game between the data security agencies of Europe and the USA is one of the things that have forced many to ponder the situation.

The Safe Harbor contract has been signed for intercontinental data security, to ensure that USA-based companies process customer data according to the EU data protection regulation. In the fall, the EU court decided that the contract is invalid because, in practice, USA-based companies must also provide the local authorities with customer data stored in the EU area. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming and the EU Council aims for formal adoption in early 2016 with a two-year transition period.

Big players like Amazon Web Services has built data centers in Europe, closer to the customers, and Amazon's goal has also been to ensure that the data therein remains untouched. Microsoft, too, will introduce new data centers in Europe. These companies work hard in data security so that customers can rely on the services.

Do you have traditional or agile workloads?

Questions have also been raised in regard to Gartner's (ICT sector research and consulting company) general order to companies to control two, different environments: the traditional, stable, rarely changing ICT environment and the very agile, continuously changing environment. If you hear someone talking about Bimodal IT, that is about managing the two environments.

Corporate executives and ICT units are wondering what the news of the fall mean in practice. Digital services are rapidly changing the business altogether, but how can you make sure in a sensible way that the infrastructure remains up to date, and data is 100% secured?

Do you need data centers of you own?

Startup companies do not have data centers of their own. They start using public cloud services for conveniently testing their ideas and expanding their business when necessary.

The situation is different for companies who have invested in infrastructure of their own. Internal infrastructure is like a hotel that you need to take care of and for which you have to pay, regardless of whether you are using the rooms or not. Sometimes you also need to hang tough when rooms are overbooked.

The faster business goes digital, the greater is the appeal to move to a hotel run by someone else, and for which you only pay for according to actual use.

Do you have the courage? What kind of company can take the entire content of their data center to the cloud? There is no single right answer to this. However, all companies should consider in their risk analysis what will happen if outsiders gain access to their critical data. What will happen if it is destroyed?

It is also possible that systems run by your data center crash. Or, that a key person familiar with the systems leaves the company.

You also need to take into account a situation where systems are subject to a surprising interruption despite promising assurance. How could you manage your business risks by using two different cloud service providers or distribute your own data into several separate cloud regions? Do you have a competence to do that in house with your business development teams and IT department?

Design and implement hybrid solutions

Fortunately, is not an "either/or" situation, but you can also go for "both, and". That is, do what Gartner recommends you to do. You can keep the most critical data near you and gradually transfer other data to public cloud services. And, the best thing is that you can make your data center and modern cloud understand each other.

In any case, the latest news (especially regarding the GDPR) forces companies to reconsider their ICT strategy. You need not know or do everything on your own because external help is available for drawing up the strategy and for executing it. The kind of help that resolves such situations on a daily basis.

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