A local cloud for local people

Stephen Pritchard

Part of the appeal of cloud computing is surely that the service can be anywhere there is an internet connection. Businesses looking at the cloud do so because they either do not want, or cannot afford, to manage all their IT infrastructure in house.

They want to avoid the fixed costs of data centres, and the up-front demands on capital associated with the equipment that goes into them.

But above all, they want flexibility. Companies that use the cloud say that a key benefit is the ability to add, or remove, computing capacity as required. They only pay for what they need, and as cloud computing services are accessed via the internet, there is a potentially unlimited pool of IT resources, available on tap.

Impose geographical limits on the cloud, though, and some of those benefits go away. If businesses are restricted to only using cloud services in the UK, or even in the EU, the likelihood is that there will be less choice, and services will cost more.

This is one of the downsides of the EU's relatively tough data privacy laws. Companies cannot just put any data they like into the cloud, if the company that hosts it might store it on servers outside EU or more accurately European Economic Area territory. The rule, known as the Eighth Principle of Data Protection, forbids the transfer of data outside the EEA "unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects".