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American cloud companies are in a pinch vis-à-vis European data sovereignty laws and a growing perception that people’s data needs to reside close to the people themselves. So it’s of note that Microsoft may put a new German-only data center in Germany, a country with even stronger data sovereignty laws than the European Union in general.
Microsoft Germany CEO Christian Illek talked about the company’s thinking on a German-only data center, according to media reports in Tagesspeigel and Deutsche Welle picked up by Data Center Dynamics. I contacted Microsoft for further detail or clarification and will update this when that comes in, but it’s a no-brainer that any big US-based cloud company would consider Germany as a priority site, since that is one of the biggest markets in Europe. Microsoft now hosts data centers in Ireland and the Netherlands. [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services, which now runs its European region out of Dublin, is likewise considering a German data center facility.
The competitive rationale is there. Big telcos in Germany and France have advocated for national clouds to forestall U.S. competitors coming in. And European companies would be remiss if they did not use Edward Snowden’s NSA disclosures as a competitive talking point.
In theory, should [company]Microsoft[/company] or [company]Amazon[/company] open up a German-only data center, it would make it easier to demonstrate compliance with German data protection laws. The reality is more complicated however, as Snowden and others have disclosed that some European security agencies funnelled local data to the NSA anyway. And under the U.S.A Patriot Act, any U.S.-based company would still be subject to requests for information, no matter where it resides. At least, I think so. As mentioned, and as Microsoft is finding in court, it’s complicated.
Legalities aside, the need for fast performance of cloud-based systems necessitates that data be located near its end users, which could lead to a cloud data center building boom worldwide.