What has prompted tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce, Google, Facebook and Apple to open more data centres in Europe? We looked at the latest announcements and the new European law on data protection, which is one of the reasons behind this development.

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The strategy of the leading cloud and digital service players is very clear: to land and retain customers (companies and public organisations) in the EU. In 2018, data hosting will come under stricter legislation and be harmonised across all member states. American companies who will have to comply with these requirements are thus looking to expand their geographical reach and get closer to their customers.

  • AWS (Amazon Web Services) claims to be impressed by the digital transformation and startup dynamic in France and wants to fulfil the requirements of 80% of the CAC40 companies that already use its services. It’s therefore expanding its premises with three new facilities near Paris in addition to the two data centres in Marseille and the Greater Paris area.
  • Microsoft, which has signed a partnership with Renault-Nissan for a connected car is also planning to set up data centres in France for its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 (CRM/ERP) services. Microsoft already has data centres in Germany and the UK and CEO Satya Nadella recently said the expansion would allow Microsoft to cover “more regions than any other cloud provider.”
  • IBM and Salesforce are also increasing their geographical reach. IBM, which is already present in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, the UK, France, Italy and Hungary, is now looking to expand its presence in Scandinavia by opening a new cloud data centre on the outskirts of Oslo in Norway. Saleforce, meanwhile, opened its first data centre in the Greater Paris area this spring. France is one of the eight target countries – and the third in Europe – for the software giant, whose high-calibre clients include Schneider Electric.
  • Google has also announced its expansion plans. For its public cloud services, it’s opening 25 data centres worldwide in 2017, including three in Germany and three in the UK. The one currently being built in Eemshaven in the Netherlands is due to open next year and will run on renewable energies. Google already has operations in Ireland, Finland and Belgium.
  • Facebook, meanwhile, is planning to build facilities in Ireland and Denmark and expanding its data centre in Sweden.
  • Apple also has its eye on the European market by setting up two data centres, one in Ireland and a second one in Denmark, to deliver its App Store, iTunes Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri technologies and services to European customers. It has announced it will be investing €1.7 billion for the data centres, which will be powered by 100% clean and renewable energy sources in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

Europe tightens up data protection

Coupled with the growing demand for cloud solutions, the GDPR* (General Data Protection Regulation), which was adopted in April 2016, is one of the reasons for this development of data centres in Europe. This new EU regulation on data privacy will come into force in May 2018 and applies to all types of organisations: private and public companies, non-profit organisations, associations, government bodies and local authorities.

With this legislation, the EU intends to:

  • Standardise and reinforce data protection and security. The law, which will apply to the 28 member states in May 2018, will supersede each individual country’s legislation.
  • Get non-European organisations offering digital goods and services to European citizens to comply with the regulation.
  • Strengthen data security, right from the product design stage (Privacy by Design), for storage, by encouraging organisations to notify the relevant authorities in the event of data leaks.
  • Strengthen citizens’ control over their data in terms of the right to be forgotten, profiling,consent, portability and the length of the storage period.

All cloud service and app providers will have to comply with the new regulation by 2018.

Sources: Reuters, Google, MacRumors, GDPR, TechCrunch, IBM