How sovereign cloud is enabling digital transformation and mitigating risk

Darren Adcock, senior product manager, UK sovereign cloud services at Redcentric, explores how sovereign cloud enables digital transformation and powers the data economy while mitigating risk requirements.

Posted 30 May 2023 by Christine Horton

The concept of cloud computing has existed for over a decade, but the question is why has sovereign cloud gained greater prominence in recent years? The world has changed significantly in the past couple of decades due to technological disruption and an evolving geopolitical landscape. Governments and businesses have needed to adapt to the modern data economy and specifically cloud services, by devising a solution to meet new regulatory, technological and operational concerns. The answer to this is the sovereign cloud, as it affords flexibility while providing greater control over data.

Considerations for senior information risk owners

Data risk is of the utmost importance for organisations and Senior Risk Information Officers (SIROs). They are usually an executive director or a member of an organisation’s senior management team who takes on overall responsibility for information risk. SIROs ensure accountability at an organisation’s executive level and the management of information risks at all levels within an organisation. 

The protection of data is key to building trust, but the levels of trust aren’t improving as they should be. Trust is crucial when it comes to data because, without trust, the value of data cannot be fully unlocked and appreciated. According to a recent McKinsey survey, most businesses are failing to protect against digital risks with only 41 percent of respondents’ organisations mitigating cybersecurity risk.

The most important question a SIRO can ask is if their strategies around data are building trust and unlocking the full potential of data. Data is always being created and changing, therefore building trust is a continuous process for SIROs as data goes through its lifecycle. In times of unpredictability, what never changes is people’s desire to have trust. Trust is the foundation of all good businesses and so the benefits of building trust when it comes to data are far-reaching.

Maintaining digital sovereignty with a “cloud first” strategy

For organisations today, cloud computing services are being prioritised over previous legacy systems, in what is called a ‘cloud-first strategy’. In the past, key requirements for the cloud have been flexibility, security and cost, but today having control over data is coming to the forefront. This is where the idea of a sovereign cloud comes into play. When certain customers move over to the cloud, they require a choice over data location, operations and security. Customers in banking, healthcare and government organisations don’t just need control over their cloud operations but it is often a requirement from a regulatory perspective, whether that be due to GDPR or the DPA regulations. Large organisations in particular have to comply with both national and international data regulations, as data moves between countries.

The sovereign cloud makes it possible to maintain digital sovereignty within a cloud-first strategy. Sovereign cloud doesn’t need to result in constraints on data but does offer greater flexibility and control over data – the best of both worlds and something not possible within a traditional infrastructure. Maintaining digital sovereignty equates to having extensive controls with levels of customisation to shape an organisation’s data strategy whilst meeting sovereignty and privacy requirements. This can be addressed by choosing where data is located, who can access it and it can be accessed via dedicated network connections where isolation from the wider internet is required. By having choices over their data location and jurisdiction, organisations can maintain digital sovereignty without sacrificing a cloud-first strategy.

Realising the potential of the sovereign cloud

Digital transformation is hard to successfully achieve and over the years, research has shown that the overall success rates are low. Accenture has defined 2023 as the “Year of Cloud Value” and discovered that the top barriers to achieving anticipated cloud outcomes are security and compliance risks, and the complexity of business and operational change. Realising the potential of the sovereign cloud is, therefore, the key to progression for achieving overall value from the cloud. As a result of cloud migrations, businesses have achieved improved levels of flexibility and wider operational benefits, but they are yet to unlock the full value of the cloud. Cloud value needs to be a priority for IT leaders this year as they look to maximise their investments.

Managing risk and finding solutions which offer greater levels of control over data will help IT leaders to enable digital transformation. Putting trust at the heart of what it means to be a successful business will help to share the focus, with SIROs and IT leaders keeping this front of mind. The sovereign cloud affords the flexibility of the cloud with control only previously created by traditional infrastructure solutions. As with any form of a technology solution, there are challenges with cost being a key consideration to maintaining digital sovereignty, but utilising the right external transformation provider can draw on the expertise of specialists who have previous experience and pre-packaged solutions which help businesses to protect and control data sovereignty while at the same time allowing them to drive value from their data.