There’s a couple of interesting trends at the moment that warrant attention.  The fact that they are emerging in parallel is, arguably, no surprise.

First cloud adoption.  Whether spurred by the pandemic and the growth of remote and hybrid workforce models,  sheer economic logic or because it  underpins most technological disruption, cloud adoption is on the rise – with anticipated rapid acceleration.

Gartner forecasts end-user spending on public cloud services to reach $396 billion in 2021 and grow a further 21.7% to reach $482 billion in 2022.  According to Telsyte, Australian organisations spent $1.36 billion on IaaS alone in 2020, up 38% from the $988 million in 2019 and is on track to exceed $3 billion by 2025.

At the same time that cloud-centric models are on the rise, so too is a focus on data; specifically citizen and organisational concern about where, in the amorphous cloud, data ‘goes’, where it is stored, how is it moved and who has access to it.

Almost in the same breath as reporting the rise of cloud, Gartner warns of emerging trends that ‘organisations must track’ – including amongst these Engineered Trust.

Trust it says, demands security and reliability. For IT to deliver business value, its foundation must consist of engineered, repeatable, trusted, proven and scalable working practices . . . .   It is on this point, that Gartner turns attention to the cloud, and the increasing ‘political uneasiness’, indeed concern, about data control – sovereign data control.

In a world where the market for cloud technology (which everyone agrees is on the rise) is dominated by US and Asian providers, Gartner’s latest hype cycle signals the growth of, and growing trend towards, digital and data sovereignty, specifically sovereign clouds.  Whether driven by geo-political concerns, national laws and policies or protectionism countries, not just organisations and citizens, want control over their data and protection of it.

But where is this coming from and, after all these years of flaming the mega clouds, why now?  Is it simply that the bigger the cloud gets, the more heightened our awareness of the need to ‘keep it close’?

Besides the obvious health, economic and social impacts of covid-19, one of the most pressing concerns for many countries is the extent to which they had, and had confidence in, their sovereign capability to respond to the pandemic and the resilience to come out the other side.

From vaccines and medical equipment to hand sanitisers, a nation’s capacity to develop, manufacturer and protect its resources has become a key priority across the political spectrum – globally.   That is, not just the ability to design, build and deliver what is required to function as an autonomous community, but the ability as a nation and government to prioritise control over its resources: its people, assets, capital, and intellectual property (IP) and the related data, risks and outcomes.

It is little wonder then that as the amorphous cloud paradigm accelerates a balance, or perhaps ‘re-balance’ is being sought.

As the world turns to cloud technologies and the flexibility, scalability, agility and resilience it provides to modernise IT environments, reduce costs, improve system reliability and support new ways of working, it should be no surprise that this correlates with a growing interest in sovereign cloud capability.

In a world of zeros and ones, where data is the new oil, nation states increasingly understand that sovereign capability requires more than simply ensuring their data remains onshore (resident).

The real assurance they want, which Gartner alludes to (and which the pandemic has surfaced), is digital and data sovereignty.  And, as is now becoming clear – something that can only be delivered through complete jurisdictional control and authority – not hampered or hamstrung by even the threat of extra-territorial interference.

AUCloud: Keeping the data of Australians in Australia