One of the best things about the cloud is that it can provide a global data footprint for even the smallest of companies. In today’s economy, the ability to tap new markets is crucial, and maintaining data infrastructure that is close to partners and customers is one of the best ways to achieve this.
But a global cloud is not without its challenges. Seamless integration of disparate data platforms is a perennial concern, but once you cross international borders, you engage an entirely new regulatory regime that does not always provide clear-cut rules as to what is and is not allowed.
This is why enterprises should assess their cloud provider’s global footprint even if they are not planning to kick data services up to an international level just yet, says Monica Brink, director of EMEA marketing at Houston-based ISP iland. A global operator will have already worked out many of the data sovereignty, privacy and related regulatory issues wherever they have established a presence and should be able to provide a standard interface and service catalogue across multiple regions. This takes much of the sting out of new market penetration, particularly since the popularity of digital services can vary greatly from market to market, and quite often can evaporate just as quickly as it arises.
A well-established global cloud footprint can also protect the enterprise from what is often a chaotic business environment, according to Talkin Cloud’s Michael Morisy and Nicole Henderson. As the recent Brexit vote in Britain showed, even long-established multinational agreements can come undone in the blink of an eye, producing high levels of uncertainty regarding the movement of digital data. A cloud provider with multiple data centers in any given market will help clients avoid becoming isolated should relations become strained between international neighbors.
This is the main reason why the market for cloud-based informational governance will be so hot going forward. Recent research from Technavio suggests the sector, which includes everything from policy and legal services to discovery, classification and analysis, is on pace to hit a 27 percent compound annual growth rate for the remainder of the decade. By transferring these capabilities from regulation-specific compliance programs onto broader-based cloud platforms, organizations are better able to match their governance to the dynamic nature of the global data economy. This not only provides rapid compliance with constantly shifting regulations, it also allows policies to be centralized for all data sources, including databases, shared services, email and cloud-based applications.
All of this is necessary, of course, because the physical infrastructure of the cloud must still traverse geo-political boundaries in order to produce a global, interconnected data ecosystem. But what if there was a way around this? Is it possible to build a secure, reliable worldwide data infrastructure that is not subject to international jurisdictions?
A company called Cloud Constellation Corporation says yes. Its planned SpaceBelt Information Ultra-Highway would place a cloud storage network aboard a ring of satellites around the earth, providing a secure, isolated data vault that would be completely cut off from terrestrial Internet and leased-line infrastructure. CEO Scott Sobhani claims the cost to build such a system is roughly the same as a similar earthbound cloud and would have the added benefit of complete immunity from natural disasters (aside from, say, a meteor storm or comet strike), as well as cyberattack, espionage and data theft. The company has been gathering seed money for some time, but there is no word yet on when the project will get underway.
In the meantime, enterprises looking to expand their data footprints will have to deal with the myriad regulations that govern the movement of data into, out of and within sovereign nations. There are ways to do this piecemeal as each new market is exposed, but a more far-reaching strategy would be to place all global resources under a common framework and then simply incorporate new governance policies as needed.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.