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AWS opens UK datacentre region to meet "pent-up" demand for locally-hosted cloud

The UK managing director of AWS claims region opening will help existing customers meet their latency and data sovereignty requirements, and benefit the wider economy

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has confirmed the long-awaited opening of its UK datacentre region, paving the way for enterprises across the country to start using its locally-hosted cloud offerings.

The region itself consists of two availability zones and multiple datacentres that are located with sufficient distance between them to guard against a single catastrophic event knocking them offline.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Gavin Jackson, managing director at AWS for the UK and Ireland, said the company expects the opening will lead to a steady rise in net new customers to its cloud platform, while spurring on its existing ones to expand their use of its technologies.

“In the UK, we have more than 100,000 customers using AWS extensively from other European regions, and we know there has been pent-up demand for certain types of applications they’ve been waiting for the UK region to come online for,” he said.

These applications might have specific data sovereignty or latency requirements that cannot be met using its existing geographical regions.

In line with this, the company has moved to assure new and existing users that its services are certified for use under the transatlantic EU-US Privacy Shield data transfer agreement, and that it has the backing of the Article 29 Working Party to transfer personal data to countries outside of the European Economic Area.

“We know there have been a number of customers who have had at least a perception, if not a reality, that data location and being in the UK matters. Some is regulatory, but some is perception, and so there is pent-up demand from net new customers to use the platform,” said Jackson.

“We don’t expect too many existing customers to migrate from one location to the UK, but some may. We expect the majority of the demand will be net-new demand.”

Meeting the local demand

Existing AWS flagship AWS customers include BP, Transport for London, Aviva and the Ministry of Justice, to name a few, who stand to benefit from the region’s opening.

Meanwhile, analysts have claimed the expansion of AWS’s datacentre footprint to the UK will lead to a surge in public sector organisations moving to the cloud. Particularly those with concerns about entrusting their data to lesser-known cloud firms, and whereabouts they might choose to store it.

The UK launch means the firm now operates 42 availability zones across the globe, with another five due to come online over the coming months.

Building out a presence

Its opening has been a year in the making, with the cloud giant first setting out plans to launch it in November 2015, with a view to going live in early 2017 at the latest.

In the meantime, the firm’s existing UK customers have relied on AWS’s other two European regions in Ireland and Germany to access the company’s cloud services.

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The UK site lacks a few of the services offered up by the company’s sites in Germany and Ireland, Jackson said, but the company is committed to ensuring customers will be able tap into full contents of its product portfolio in due course.

“The plan in the fullness of time is that we will have service parity in all of our regions. We’re starting where we’re starting because there are services with a high demand and we can get those active feedback loops from customers telling us what they want first,” he said.

Economic benefit

News of the launch comes hot on the heels of a report by the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) into the nation’s 4G network coverage, which concludes the UK is “currently languishing in the digital slow lane”.

In response, Jackson said the amount of money being invested in building out the UK’s cloud capabilities should ensure the digital economy has a bright future.

“This is a really good news story for the British economy because we think competitive nations in future will have to think carefully about having access to massive scale cloud computing resources and you can see that already from the number of startups that have been built on AWS and the amount of entrepreneurism we have in the UK,” he said.

“The inward investment is good for the economy, and one of the elements that will power the digital economy for years to come.”

Next Steps

How do cloud regions affect costs? 

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