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How will Brexit affect your cloud strategy?

As the UK heads out of the EU, organisations need to ensure their apps and data in the cloud won't be caught in an innovative jam

The Union Jack and the European flag with a diagonal tear spitting the apart.

With the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the wheels have been set in motion to cope with the country’s exit from the world’s largest trading block and out on its own to face the world. This means a number of unknowns for UK businesses when it comes to their cloud infrastructure.

While GDPR is set to come into force next year, it isn't completely cut and dried as to whether the UK will fully adhere to it once we leave in 2019. This uncertainty has left businesses wondering what exactly they need to do next.

Mark Settle, chief information officer at Okta, says that Brexit will inevitably complicate the policies and procedures that UK firms need to follow to manage enterprise data in the future.  

“Presumably, the UK government will develop its own regulations regarding the storage and movement of enterprise data across sovereign boundaries,” he says.

Settle adds that the government will also need to establish rules governing the collection and storage of personally identifiable information. Whether these regulations are inline with GDPR and other European standards may not matter as much as it first appears, though. 

“Individual UK enterprises will still be required to demonstrate and document compliance with such standards to conduct business within the EU,” he explains.

Getting Brexit ready

The cloud itself can't be affected by Brexit, but hosting contracts and the cloud type (private, public and hybrid) might affect the overall cost to an organisation.

“Organisations will have to assess the best possible solutions for their business and clients and keep outline strategies for each scenario, ready for implementation, once the assessment of Brexit is complete,” says Dominik Birgelen, CEO of app delivery and streaming platform provider oneclick.

Warren says that as long as an organisation knows where its data is stored and adheres to the local rules in the UK, as well as those in any other markets where they operate, there’s no need for change.

“It’s important to remember that GDPR will apply to any company which processes the personal data of an EU citizen, so many businesses will have to comply regardless of the rules the UK implements after Brexit. The important thing will be being able to explicitly explain where your data is being stored – even if the data is being held by a third party,” he says.

 Jon Wrennall, CTO at Advanced, says organisations can make their use of cloud ‘Brexit ready’ by using British partners who have UK-based support staff and UK-based data centres but who will still follow required EU standards.

“British organisations want to and should ensure right of governance over data access – hence the importance of having your data which is managed in the cloud held locally in the UK. There’s a strong element of mitigating risk and retaining trust by ensuring your data is held locally, and legal requirements around that data are then subject to local laws,” he adds.

Getting more costly

With the pound nearly reaching parity with the Euro, the cost of cloud has been increasing. There is a real worry that the pound will dip even lower, further hitting British businesses that have come to rely on the cloud to run their operations.

Wrennall says that one certain way to help mitigate this is by using cloud based providers that don’t just invoice in sterling but whose primary costs are in sterling and where the intellectual property of the assets being billed for - the software as a service or otherwise - is UK based. 

“To mitigate risk, there’s the opportunity to commit to three-year pricing deals, but this undermines the benefits of the cloud in being flexible and providing freedom of movement. No matter what type of cloud it is – it all uses hardware and software in data centres and they are all made and supported by a company – so irrespective – it comes down to location of the supplier and how they trade,” he says.

Getting it right in the future

As mentioned earlier, there’s uncertainty over about the data management rules and regulations that UK firms will have to comply with in the future.

“Until there’s greater clarity about the future ground rules that will apply to data management, UK firms would be well served to build up their internal data management expertise, specifically conducting master data management initiatives to fully understand current procedures used to source, clean and protect critical enterprise data,” says Settle. He adds that staffing investments in additional data architects and engineers will also pay long-term dividends and allow UK enterprises to respond more readily to whatever regulations emerge in the future.

Birgelen says companies should assess their current cloud provision completely.

“This will help to understand how their data currently being stored, used and accessed,” he says. “It will also ensure security compliance, disaster recovery plans and end user/customer preferences are prioritised. This value proposal than should be used to assess different post-Brexit scenarios once the effect of Brexit on cloud provision is made clearer."

He adds that businesses of all sizes should also conduct an analysis on which skills are vital to keep their competitive edge and what kind of workforce is required to meet their strategic objectives in the medium to long term. “This will help them to audit their current workforce and assess the impact of various post-Brexit scenarios currently being discussed,” says Birgelen.

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