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New cloud services centre in Germany ‘aims to address data protection concerns’

A data centre company has said that a German data centre that it operates can now connect privately to Amazon's cloud services in a way that it says satisfies German and EU data protection laws. 

Equinix Inc has said an additional facility in Frankfurt is offering Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) ‘Direct Connect’ cloud service, in a move aimed at addressing concerns in Germany over compliance with data protection laws.

Direct Connect enables clients to connect their IT infrastructure directly to AWS, “establishing private network connections that bypass the public internet”, Equinix said.

“As cloud computing transcends borders, one of the top chief information officer (CIO) concerns is compliance with German and European data protection laws,” Equinix said.

“By expanding AWS Direct Connect to continental Europe, and specifically Germany, Equinix and Amazon are enabling many CIOs to advance their hybrid cloud strategies by seamlessly and safely incorporating public cloud services into their existing architectures,” Equinix said.

Technology law expert Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “It is sometimes said that the public cloud business model will not work if providers are continually hampered by local laws that impose restrictions that prevent the transfer of data to data centres situated at various locations across the globe that are outside of the jurisdiction to which the restrictions apply.”

Scanlon said: “AWS’ announcement follows a number of others by other large providers that give evidence of a growing willingness of cloud providers to look for solutions to the data transfer restriction issues imposed by legislation in some regions. However, what is really important is the detail. The security arrangements, the level of control and the extent of interfacing between private and public cloud offerings that may be of most concern to potential customers, particularly those operating in regulated environments such as financial services, when assessing new offerings such as this one.”

Equinix said its Frankfurt facility brings the total number of Equinix data centres offering the AWS service to eight worldwide. The facility “is home to more than 400 national and international network operators, including one of the highest concentrations of networks servicing eastern European countries”, Equinix said.

Equinix said figures published this year by the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicated that cloud computing is “rapidly growing in Europe, with the total cloud market set to more than double over the next three years and reach over $30 billion in 2017”.

“IDC predicts that Germany is likely to be the country receiving the most attention from both local and multinational cloud service providers in 2014, with more than 60,000 square metres of cloud data centre capacity deployed,” Equinix said. “The sheer size of the market... solid economic pace and relatively low penetration of cloud services makes it an irresistible target for many. IDC estimated that more than $1bn was spent on hosted private cloud services in Germany in 2013, with double-digit growth expected again in 2014.

Earlier this year, Germany’s interior ministry unveiled draft legislation that would pave the way for the introduction of tough new cyber security measures to protect ‘critical infrastructure’ in the country. Measures outlined in the proposals included strengthening Germany’s federal information security office and extending the investigative powers of the federal criminal police in relation to cyber crime. Companies would also be required to report attacks by hackers.

The ministry said the proposals were in line with Germany’s ‘digital agenda’ for 2014-2017, which was approved by the federal government in August 2014. The digital agenda is a supplement to the government’s information and communication technology strategy launched in 2010 (46-page / 1.34 MB PDF).

In September 2014 T-Systems, a subsidiary of German telecoms provider Deutsche Telekom, said it was working with US-based Cisco to develop cloud services in Europe which are as secure as data centres and meet EU and German data protection requirements.

In a related move, the head of Microsoft Germany said the company was considering the possibility of working with partners to develop a cloud data centre based in Germany.

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