‘Sovereign’ is quite possibly a contender for one of the most used buzz words of 2022 but not in a context that you might assume.
The sad passing of Britain’s longest ever serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in September, which led to a global outpouring of gratitude, sadness and love, would perhaps be the obvious candidate for the word to re-enter our consciousness, but it was some five months earlier that it started to come to prominence.
And it was thanks to cloud computing no less.
Predicted to be one of the breakouts of 2023, the Sovereign Cloud – which is not one cloud to rule them all – is all about data, ownership, trust, control, national interests, and compliance.
Simply put a Sovereign Cloud is built and operated in a particular country or region, ensuring all data including metadata, stays on sovereign soil and prevents foreign access to data under all circumstances.
Cloud sovereignty requires the service provider to monitor their cloud and data storage service and prove compliance with local data privacy and security laws. Failure to do so can lead to punitive damages. Claims of sovereignty are established with regular assessments of records that log access permissions and data movement in a set period.
It not actually a new term or concept, but when a firm such as VMware announces it as its next major ‘big thing’ at its annual Explore Europe conference earlier this year, you know it has substance.
So, what was the catalyst for the start of the Sovereignty Cloud hype? It was the Russian invasion of Ukraine that focused the minds of countries on the protection of their data. This aggressive act effectively run a railroad through the idea that all countries can co-operate, sharing and protecting data without risk of change.
The European Union has long wished to mitigate dependence and the risk of foreign access to critical data. EU regulations, such as GDPR, Data Act and Data Governance Act, are designed to control the flow of data across borders to prevent the risk of access to data by non-European authorities.
It wants to be less reliant on foreign entities – the dominance of US-based AWS, Azure, Google – in terms of their dependence on cloud computing for example, Germany’s Open Telekom Cloud.
So, who needs a Sovereign Cloud? This type of cloud is designed for any enterprise that collects, stores, and handles data in multiple countries or regions. They are particularly pertinent to enterprises that operate within public utilities and the health, insurance, and finance sectors as these are governed by special rules.
The question on most people’s lips? Is Sovereign Cloud going to be a Queen Elizabeth like stayer (70 years) or will it be more Edward VIII (325 days)?
At this point the indications are that Sovereign Cloud will reign for the long-term. This from IBM’s 2023 predictions: “As the proliferation of cloud technologies gains more oversight from regulators and introduces emerging operating models for the industry like Sovereign Cloud, organizations will need to adopt technologies that allow them to drive innovation while adhering to growing requirements in 2023 and beyond.”