Sovereignty and Security are a powerful capability in the defence of our Data as the nation’s most valuable asset

There is an increasing awareness around the importance of data so it was interesting to hear  Richard Moore, the Chief of MI6 being interviewed on the BBC about the his concerns relating to so called “debt traps” and “data traps” associated with nation states such as China and Russia.

UKCloud has long advocated the benefits of having a sovereign digital capability.  Today it proudly powers hundreds of public sector organisations – providing intrinsic security, connectivity, jurisdictional sovereignty, and expert services to help public sector organisations adopt the transformative benefits of digital technology. However, this must be done without compromising the potential security and sovereignty risks that Richard Moore alludes to.

In the interview, Richard comments on the ability of nation states such as China to slowly but steadily tap the data reserves of various countries across the world that could impact their digital resilience in the future. To quote Richard Moore, “If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time, that will erode your sovereignty – you no longer have control over that data.”

This is a key concern that is driving increased awareness and interest in sovereign cloud capabilities across the world.  Which can be evidenced by the increasing coverage by analysts such as Gartner, as well as emerging sovereign cloud capabilities being developed in France and Germany, underpinned by Europe’s GAIA-X programme for sovereign data economies.

Technology providers are also seeing a growing demand for sovereign cloud capabilities as the concern and awareness organisations have surrounding their value increases. VMware recently announced their sovereign cloud initiative, of which UKCloud is a founding member, and Microsoft continue to evolve their distributed cloud model with products like Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Edge.

Our view on sovereign cloud looks at it from three key dimensions, of which the geographic location is the first – the location will remain key especially in the context of the increasing decentralisation of cloud services into a dispersed multi-cloud environment and the evolution of edge computing.

The second dimension is around national capability and ensuring that every nation has its own jobs, skills and businesses (mindful of Richard Moore’s comment about the debt trap), that can drive innovation and utility of cloud services. Which can maximise the value outcomes that digital services can deliver and that will become critical to its economy and society.

The third and final dimension is around operational resilience, which is the nation’s ability to continue to deliver critical digital services – despite any issues with the availability of foreign provided cloud services. This could be particularly concerning for countries at risk of digital sanctions, such as parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Richard Moore’s comments on the BBC this morning is a timely reminder that the political and societal challenges that the world faces require each nation to both; ‘cooperate and collaborate’ on issues such as climate change and COVID 19, whilst also ‘protecting and nurturing’ national assets such as the data that every nation (and indeed region), is increasingly generating. This is the so-called data economy and as we saw in the recent state of data and digital report . Today many organisations do not have a clear strategy and if you wish to establish and protect your place in this economy then sovereign cloud becomes a critical component to both enable, and to protect your most valuable asset……data.
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