Will the war in Ukraine spark a renewed interest in local clouds?

The war in Ukraine has sparked renewed interest in data retention within national borders. This creates a challenge for those who work with companies of mixed loyalty.

Ukrainians protest, thousands gather to demand tougher sanctions against Russia from the UK, EU and US Governments to prevent the war in Ukraine
Image: Sandor Szmutko / Adobe Stock

Regardless of your political leanings, the war in Ukraine was as important a moment as the first modern war on mainland Europe. It was also the first conflict where technology became an important factor, not just on the battlefield but in everything from social networks to the financial system.

Along with tanks, small arms and artillery, both sides deployed YouTube, Telegram and Facebook to spread their views, influence other countries and even demoralize the other party. In addition to the usual government sanctions, the commercial banking sector was also involved. Visa and Mastercard payment networks Russian activities suspendedinfluence political figures and the general population.

These moves on the technology front have made a major shift to what were previously primarily global networks and products. Regardless of how you feel about the warriors, it’s not hard to imagine you’ll be disappointed if your trusted cloud provider shuts down all of your services over the next few days.

Balkanization of the cloud?

This scenario has not been lost on other regions not closely linked to the United States. As an American, I find it all too easy to fall into the trap of sending all the countries of the world into Soviet caricatures of “the good guys” and “the bad guys,” but the geopolitical truth is complicated. much more. Dozens of advanced economies find themselves with mixed allegiance between the United States, Europe, Russia, China and a host of other great powers, each with their own agendas and concerns.

As technology leaders, it seems that geopolitics is beyond our scope of responsibility. However, actions in Ukraine have alarmed many countries with complicated relationships between the United States and its allies, as well as Russia and their partners. I’ve seen several global clients who require all cloud data to be stored locally and have grown increasingly hesitant to rely solely on US tech companies.

The once-exempt data sovereignty law is now being enforced, creating a significant challenge for technology leaders. Let’s say your entire platform is based on Google Cloud and your company has plans to expand to Nigeria. In that case, another simple localization project might suddenly require you to move and integrate a local cloud provider to comply with data sovereignty laws in a country with no region. Google Cloud.

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Several countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America already have strong data sovereignty laws on the books and have followed up with some warnings as businesses, media and citizens alike Russia has been blocked from these platforms. In response, countries are increasingly developing and mandating the use of local cloud providers with tight government oversight, potentially reducing the “build once, deploy in” benefits. everywhere” of the cloud.

Rely on the law

Given the renewed concern about data sovereignty in many countries caused by the war in Ukraine, you should work with your legal colleagues to understand the rules where you currently operate and identify the risks. Don’t assume that because you’ve been operating in a particular region using a global cloud provider for years, all is well. In most jurisdictions, the only valid route to any data sovereignty law is a formal waiver letter from a government agency.

Build time for this assessment into any geographic expansion program. If you’re managing technology for a company with diverse global operations, consider creating an initiative to ensure you’re compliant. This can be a particularly difficult exercise as you may have to deal with multiple languages, complex bureaucracies, and “huge divisions” between the legal and technical aspects of data sovereignty. . No one ever said being a modern technology leader would be easy.

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