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How data sovereignty push will demand better complexity and cost controls

By Luca Olivari, WW Sales Leader, Nutanix Database Service.

Luca Olivari, WW Sales Leader, Nutanix Database Service.
Luca Olivari, WW Sales Leader, Nutanix Database Service.

At the end of last year, AWS announced plans to set up a European cloud service to address data sovereignty concerns among EU customers. This comes at a time when an Accenture report highlighted the importance of data sovereignty with 41% of respondents claiming data compliance and security as a top barrier to achieving expected cloud value.

But what does this mean for companies in Africa? Invariably, businesses here want the same flexibility and scalability of the cloud as their international peers. But more than ever, this must be done as cost-effectively as possible. If data management issues in Europe undermine value, African data centres will also start feeling the impact.

Why data sovereignty?

Data sovereignty is a good thing. Protecting data by ensuring it is stored in the country of origin certainly helps with privacy and security measures. No one can argue with steps taken to help protect data. Even in Africa, this has given rise to several localised cloud services to comply with data sovereignty regulations. For instance, South Africa’s implementation of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) has spurred companies to consider how they store and manage data carefully.

While the public cloud has many benefits, companies may feel uncomfortable storing critical data in such an environment. The need to govern the data sprawl and build data-driven applications has caused a major shift in the number of databases businesses have managed in recent years. Previously, a company might have had a single database. Today, they have multiple workloads spanning several databases.

Adding to this complexity is the growing shift to open-source databases. There is also a need for developers to access databases for testing. It is not uncommon to see companies dealing with various engines such as Oracle, SQL Server, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL. But in trying to manage their databases, there is often a trade-off between convenience and control, as database administrators are being stretched to breaking point.

The problem is exposed even further with data sovereignty compliance. How do IT teams ensure compliance across a wide range of database systems working across various clouds and on-premises data centres? Accenture research reveals that approximately 55% of companies can only sometimes trace data from its source to its point of consumption. According to the report, there is also a need for more trust in data governance. Just 9% of respondents reported that they ‘completely’ provide multiple secure interface options for users to consume data.

A new database reality

For any organisation needing to address data sovereignty compliance and privacy rules, staying on top of multiple databases demands a different approach. Part of this entails using automation that enables better integration between disparate environments. As such, Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) has become more popular. This streamlines day-to-day, time-consuming database management tasks. DBaaS also enables software development projects to be implemented quicker, ensuring improved services and reduced time-to-market across the company.

For companies across Africa, going the hybrid multi-cloud DBaaS route means they can access a cloud operating model while still allowing customers to retain complete control of their data estates through cloud-like management capabilities. This significantly simplifies the processes required to make information available. It also means databases in multiple departments and locations can be combined into a single system. A single view of all databases at a company results in a more manageable infrastructure and an increased ability to manage data.

Local businesses must, therefore, see sovereign cloud as an umbrella term for a range of solutions that enable them to take control of the location, access, and processing of their data, whether this is on-premises, at the edge, in a colocation facility, or a tailored public cloud. DBaaS enables these companies to make those choices without getting lost in the details. This can only be a good thing for businesses in Africa who remain acutely aware of potential cost and complexity implications.

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