Organisations produce and depend on vast quantities of data, with many of them turning to hyperscalers—massive cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure—for data storage and processing.
Initially promised as a democratic technology that could offer huge scalability, the reality of hyperscalers often comes with a cost. Gaining the convenience of hyperscalers often means losing out on data sovereignty, raising concerns about who ultimately controls this critical asset.
In recent times the topic of data sovereignty has gained popular attention, first as the UK forked its own version of GDPR, and now with the UK set to alter its data regulation as it plans to abandon GDPR. Elsewhere TikTok have opened a data centre in Ireland to alleviate concerns that European citizens' data is being shared with the Chinese government.
Fortunately, colocation emerges as a promising solution to this growing problem of understanding where data is being stored, and the implications of its location.
Understanding data sovereignty
From a legal regulatory perspective, data sovereignty revolves around the principle that data is subject to the laws and governance structures of the country in which it resides. It signifies that data owners maintain control over who accesses, processes, and stores their data, with the data being protected by the legal and regulatory framework of its physical location.
From a business perspective, decision makers want to know where their data is stored, to understand what regulation it is subject to and how this may impact their operations. This insight can often be lost when migrating to hyperscaler cloud services.
Challenges of data Sovereignty in hyperscalers & clouds
Hyperscalers operate vast networks of data centres worldwide, often shifting data to optimise performance and redundancy. This geographical dispersion complicates figuring out which jurisdiction's laws apply to one's data, eroding transparency and control for the customer.
On top of this, within the extensive terms of service and privacy policies of hyperscalers, users may unwittingly grant broad access, usage, and sharing rights to these companies. Microsoft's recent move to integrate ChatGPT across Azure services has drawn cause for concern in this regard.
In some regions, governments can compel hyperscalers to provide access to user data without necessarily notifying data owners, thereby undermining the sense of data sovereignty.
Colocation as the solution
Colocation, the practice of housing servers and other IT equipment in third-party data centres, offers a compelling solution to the issue of data sovereignty.
Colocation facilities are often available in various locations, enabling data owners to choose where their data resides. This means they can select data centres in jurisdictions with favourable privacy laws, ensuring better control over data sovereignty. Indeed, by strategically placing data in colocation centres compliant with local regulations, data owners can ensure their data is more easily managed within the bounds of data protection laws. For many UK based businesses, storing data within the UK is likely to lead to the best control.
Many colocation providers typically offer more straightforward terms and agreements. At ServerChoice, due to our independent ownership structure, we're able to be flexible with our agreements. Hyperscalers are subject to broad corporate policy, meaning choice over where data is stored is often non-negotiable. Through colocation, users can better understand and potentially change the conditions under which their data is stored and processed, promoting transparency and accountability.
In an era dominated by hyperscalers, data sovereignty concerns are on the rise. However, colocation emerges as a viable solution, offering users greater control over where their data resides and how it's managed. As the importance of data continues to grow, individuals and organisations alike must consider the advantages of colocation when seeking to regain control over their data sovereignty. By making informed choices about where their data is housed, users can protect their assets while benefiting from the convenience and scalability offered.