Microsoft and Google are pushing sovereign cloud options – is AWS?

  • New laws are driving the rollout of sovereign cloud offerings from the major hyperscalers

  • AWS is taking a different approach from its competitors

  • Analyst Roy Chua suggested customers are seeking more controls and automation to ease the burden associated with sovereign cloud operations

Data sovereignty is a big deal in certain parts of the world, but neither Microsoft nor Google Cloud are letting that stop them. Both have come out with sovereign cloud solutions tailored to address the problem, the former via partnerships with Germany's T-Systems and others and the latter in the form of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty which just launched in public preview after being announced last year. Oracle even debuted an EU Sovereign Cloud offering in June.

There’s good reason for the push. According to recent report from Accenture, at least 137 countries have passed laws related to data protection or sovereignty. In Europe in particular, half of CXOs said they view data sovereignty as a key factor when comparing cloud vendors.

Accenture also found that among companies interested in sovereign cloud investments, 37% have already invested and 44% are planning to do so within the next two years. More than a third of companies said they could move as much as 75% of their data and workloads to a sovereign cloud.

But aside from a token pledge in November 2022 to develop solutions for sovereignty needs, dominant global cloud player Amazon Web Services (AWS) seems to have been relatively quiet on this front.

It turns out the company actually has taken some action, just maybe not the action that was expected. An AWS representative pointed to the launch of AWS Dedicated Local Zones in August of this year. These are “a new type of AWS infrastructure designed to help public sector and regulated industry customers meet security, data isolation and compliance requirements,” the representative said.

In a blog announcing the new zones, AWS SVP of Sales, Marketing and Global Services Matt Garman explained “our approach is to continue to make AWS sovereign-by-design.”

Indeed, Sid Nag, VP of Gartner's Technology and Service Provider group, explained that while Google and Microsoft have "announced sovereign cloud offerings either directly or via partnerships, AWS has taken a different approach. They don’t have a separate sovereign cloud offering. Their approach is to build advanced sovereignty controls and features within their cloud substrate to allow customers around the world to meet their digital sovereignty requirements."

But AvidThink Founder and Principal Roy Chua hinted that may not be enough.

“Customers are looking for more automated solutions and pre-vetted policy sets (not unlike what Microsoft is pushing with their Sovereign Landing Zone and policies to offload the complexity of maintaining compliance),” Chua told Silverlinings by email.

In the longer term, Chua said he expects all the hyperscalers to roll out more workload controls, networking routes and data storage strategies for regional and national compliance requirements.

“This compliance would be at both the engineering and hardware level, as well as at the policy level,” he said.

“I think we'll see more automation, infrastructure-as-code that takes into account compliance and sovereignty, along with fine-grained controls over external access or cross-country/cross-region access. It's early days yet for what is a complex problem with many different standards and regulations worldwide," Chua added.

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