Data sovereignty is a persistent topic in my cloud office inquiries. Many customers want to know where Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite will put their emails, files and other data — or want to understand why they shouldn’t care. Having a data center in their own country, or at least close to them is surprisingly comforting. This research note describes many of the issues.
Recently when I was visiting clients in South Africa, the issue came up several times especially with government agencies. No one could point to a specific law or rule, but everyone “knew” that the government would not let its data be stored outside of the country. I was pretty negative about the prospects of Microsoft opening data centers in South Africa. I figured that it was unlikely
to happen until the GDP (a rough proxy for market opportunity) of South Africa got close to those of Australia, South Korea, the UK or Canada, countries where Microsoft has opened dedicated data centers. South Africa has a ways to go before reaching that point.
But I was wrong. This week, Microsoft announced that they plan to open data centers for Azure and Office 365 in Cape Town and Johannesburg sometime in 2018. Microsoft has apparently decided to lower the bar for making these kinds of investments.
For the sake of companies and governments in Africa, I really don’t mind being wrong this time. This investment shows a belief and commitment to the continent that I find refreshing. It will certainly encourage cloud adoption even faster in the country and the region. I have found interest in cloud increasing over the last four years that I have been at Symposium/ITxpo in South Africa. This step can only accelerate that.
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