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Does it really matter where your data is stored?

Does it really matter where your data is stored?

12/02/2016 11:00 by Tom Ward-Scammell
Product Manager - Cloud

Data security has long been a hot topic for professionals and consumers alike, with businesses such as Ashley Madison and VTech falling victim to high profile breaches last year alone which saw sensitive consumer data at risk.  Worryingly, this is an issue which is only going to grow in 2016 and with the ramifications of the Safe Harbour agreement no longer being a legal method of transferring data between the US and UK, leads to the question; ‘Does it really matter where your data is stored?’

The sinking of Safe Harbour

Now that the Safe Harbour agreement has been deemed illegal, the transfer of data from the EU to the US is not as secure as once thought and UK businesses can’t be certain their data is fully protected by EU privacy laws.  European law forbids the movement of its citizens’ data outside of the EU unless to another area with equal privacy protection. With this in mind, many businesses will now begin to question the benefit of allowing any of their sensitive data to be hosted in the US or outside of the EU in general.

Storing data in-house often isn’t a desirable option – either due to the lack of flexibility and high associated costs, or limited resources, skills or time available to manage such large quantities of information around the clock.  Businesses therefore want to know their data is in safe hands and look towards established cloud service providers with dedicated data centres to manage this on their behalf.  

However, if data security issues continue to plague the industry as anticipated, UK companies are likely to prefer storing data closer to home.  The major cloud providers are moving quickly in the wake of the Safe Harbour ruling, especially Microsoft.  Knowing that data security and business confidence go hand in hand, they will be opening at least two UK data centres for Azure and Office 365 this year.  These are in addition to their current EU-based data centres in Ireland and the Netherlands.  It’s vital for UK businesses to know that their data is hosted in a country which adheres to EU protection law.

On top of the main security/privacy aspects, there are other benefits of EU/UK hosting; latency is improved – the closer your data is, the quicker you will be able to access it, and any unlikely outages can be reacted to as quickly as possible so your business isn’t affected by downtime.

Where next for UK businesses?

Following the annulment, businesses will be forced to carry out an audit of their security measures and exactly where would be the best option for their business-critical data to be stored.  For those businesses currently offshoring data storage to the US (either as a strategic decision or unknowingly as part of a cloud provider’s terms), alternative options will need to be considered, as one thing is certain; data security will remain a major issue for years to come.  

This fact is highlighted by government figures which show online crime is currently costing the country £27bn every year - a huge amount that with the safe protection of company data, could be invested in the future wellbeing of UK businesses instead of being needlessly lost.  With Safe Harbour no longer providing the protection it set out to give, new options are appearing as more global giants look to open data centres in the UK. This could prove to be the perfect compromise for those companies wishing to keep their data in the UK and with a cloud service provider they trust to deliver.

If you're thinking of moving to the cloud.  Make sure to check out our Office 365 migration guide below.


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