Data Sovereignty in Today’s Post-COVID Cloud-First World

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Since cloud services have become widely adopted, organizations and cloud providers both struggle with the issue of data sovereignty.

Critical business functions are being moved to the cloud on a constant basis, fueling a flood of cloud-first initiatives. The widespread adoption of cloud technology by businesses of all sizes has created new markets for cloud vendors that may not have made sense a few years ago.

IT departments worldwide are devoting time and resources to managing endpoint device data in the post-COVID environment. For instance, IT teams must assist in transferring data from the old to the new laptop when an employee is assigned a new one. IT must recover the data from a backup to resume operations when a branch office server fails. Many businesses are transferring their primary data storage from endpoint devices to the cloud as a result of data being stored in the cloud and an increase in endpoint devices functioning as extensions.

As company data is now spread across more locations than ever before, data sovereignty presents a unique set of issues. The same dataset may be subject to various laws depending on where it is located or collected. A distributed computing model – where data frequently moves from one area of the organization to another – must take into account the legal and financial ramifications of data crossing international borders.

Backup and disaster recovery spring to mind as considerations for businesses with locations across various countries that may want to share data across several regions. Many cloud service providers move the data to the nearby data center automatically. To safeguard data privacy or for legal reasons, an organization could want to restrict some types of data to a single region.

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Regional Data Sovereignty 

It’s important to note that while sovereignty usually revolves around country-level standards, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for independent nations to join forces based on their proximity to one another with the goal of establishing regionally sovereign clouds. Governments have to make significant financial commitments to spend over a specified time period to subsidize country-level clouds. It is one of the factors that makes sovereignty at a regional level allegedly more feasible than at an individual country level.

The physical distance between the data center and the customer is important, and many cloud providers have set up data centers across several regions to accommodate these data management needs. To maximize security and performance, companies may want to have their data stored locally, in their own nation, or even in their own city due to problems with latency, for example.

Strategic Data Sovereignty 

Every piece of data must be located somewhere. However, given that the goal of cloud computing is to provide anytime, anywhere access to data and systems, this may be counterintuitive. This could be difficult, especially in nations with the strictest laws governing data sovereignty.

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Technologists, data owners, and governments must collaborate to establish what is acceptable and compliant in light of the challenges surrounding data sovereignty, including control over where that data sits and is exchanged, ownership of data, and privacy. Cloud providers will continue to offer solutions and best practices as they become available, as more businesses look for cloud computing solutions already developed to address the specific sovereignty challenges they face.

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Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.