EMC's cloud lost in fog of "governmental sensitivities"

Legal issues associated with management of cross-border data flows are slowing EMC's storage-as-a-service push.

EMC’s plans to build data centres that support its forthcoming storage-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings are being stymied by the need for regulatory certainty, according to executives speaking at the company’s Inform conference in Sydney. 

“There are governmental sensitivities about what we are trying to do with Mozy,” said Steve Leonard, EMC’s President for Asia Pacific and Japan. “We are having active discussions with governments and are working to resolve privacy issues."

Those issues, said Chuck Hollis, the company’s Vice-President of Technology Alliances, centre on the legality of data stored in one jurisdiction being transported to another.

“Before we spend $50million or 100 million on a data centre, we want to know about the laws in place in the country the data centre resides,” he said. “We want transparency … and the ability for information to leave transparently across borders.”

Pressed to identify a jurisdiction in which cross-border transport of information is problematic, Hollis cited the European Union (EU).

“The EU says that information created within its borders cannot leave the EU,” he said. “This creates a problem if a data centre is in Switzerland.”

Varying encryption standards were another issue Hollis cited as creating regulatory barriers to EMC rolling out SaaS.

The company’s position is, however, inconsistent with its current activities. EMC is already reselling its Mozy online backup service in Australia and says that small businesses have adopted the service. No legal barriers have been raised to impair users of the service.

Hollis added that EMC is currently considering China, Japan and Korea as sites for data centres, and that while “we have not stated we chose to locate cloud data centres anywhere, Australia is a good choice.”

Leonard also signalled a major push into cloud computing by EMC.

“We are trying to be at the front of what we see as a big trend,” he said. “EMC will be a provider of cloud services and a supplier to third party suppliers of cloud services.”

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