Woe for the CIO Part 1 – EU regulation

Published on 8th January 2013 by Penny Jones

It is difficult to tell if it is the coming of a new year, or the need to use up excess budget, that drives the influx of research and surveys that come across the media desks as DatacenterDynamics FOCUS at the end of the year. December just gone seems to have produced quite a lot of insight into the struggles of the CIO – mostly from vendors pushing wares that can help to overcome these, or companies with services to help make the CIO’s life easier.

While some of the findings presented won’t come as too much of a surprise, I thought I would share some of those that paint a bit of a picture of what the CIO will be grappling with in 2013 in a series of blogs this week.

The main concerns for CIOs – as the vendors and providers tell it - all seemed to swirl around data, from regulation to management.

For the first bit of insight, I will focus on Europe.

While we have no clear research covering the US data center market, Forrester Research, in a report carried out for Colt Technology Services and VMware, found that CIOs in Europe are increasingly putting their companies at risk by concentrating on EU regulation – at the cost of local compliance.

It found after speaking with 400 CIOs from across Europe that 30% of CIOs across Europe, and 34% of UK CIOs interviewed, regard EU-wide regulation as more important than local data laws. And in most countries, even those meeting local regulation seemed to consider EU law more important than those of the local country they operate in.

But according to Forrester Consulting, the complexity of EU laws can make them difficult to adhere to – keep in mind how many sectors and countries these all must apply to.

The European Commission has proposed comprehensive reform of its 1995 data protection rules that will strengthen online privacy rights, and help overcome issues seen with the rise of the global economy.

“A strong, clear and uniform legal framework at EU level will help to unleash the potential of the Digital Single Market and foster economic growth, innovation and job creation, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said in January 2012 when the changes were first announced.

The guidelines will cover a range of areas CIOs should be concerned about, from responsibilities in the event of a data breach to recommendations on locations for the processing of data and methods of transferral of personal data outside of the European Economic Area.

Once finalised, these regulations will apply to all European countries, even when they do business outside of the EU.

So where does this leave local regulation?

Of those surveyed in the Forrester report, 85% of CIOs interviewed said they considered which country a data center is in before deciding on a service provider – a clear indication that local laws still hold some sway in Europe.

Many of these CIOs - 78% - said they prefer to operate somewhere where their data is not scrutinized by the government.

Either way, European CIOs expect regulations across Europe to increase in importance over the next two years (85-88%) – this timing could tie in with the anticipated release of new EU guidelines. At the same time, numerous national government initiatives are taking place to pin down how data should be dealt with inside national boarders, pushed on by the rise of cloud computing and the massive increase in data being generated and consumed across the continent.

 Of course, Colt wants to sell its compliant data center services, and take some of the heat off the CIO, and VMware wants to promote the virtualized data center space – a data center without borders. But the study does point out that regulation is shifting fast, and will have some sway on how technology will operate and in what environment in future.

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Penny Jones is the Global Editor for FOCUS online and FOCUS magazine

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