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Aller Group deploys Dropbox Business in European AWS cloud

The end of Safe Harbour left many European businesses exposed in terms of data privacy, but Dropbox now has a German datacentre hosted on Amazon Web Services

Nordic magazine publisher Aller Group has become one of the first European businesses to deploy Dropbox Business hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Germany.

The publisher, which has a Danish head office, is using the file sharing and collaboration platform as part of its cloud strategy. It selected Dropbox Business when the service became available in Europe.

Its decision was driven by the end of the Safe Harbour agreement, and before its replacement, Privacy Shield – which enables US companies to comply with EU data protection laws – came into force.

Dropbox also cooperated with the publisher to ensure no changes needed to be made to its Model Clause Agreement for data residency, because Danish law on data privacy stipulates that Model Clause Agreements must be unmodified.

Dropbox is one of several public cloud services used by Aller Group. In the past 18 months, the company has changed its entire infrastructure and implemented a cloud-based editorial system to support 1,200 staff.

Cloud changes the way people work

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, Aller Group CIO Michael Enk said: “We are changing a company that started in 1873. We have people who have 30 and 40-year work anniversaries. We have to change the way people are working. Part of this is using tech, so we are changing systems at a fairly rapid pace.”

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According to Enk, cloud computing changes the way people work. “We are pushing very hard to enable anyone to work wherever they want, with whatever tools they want,” he said.

As an example, he said one of the publisher’s journalists was able to access the editorial system while on a flight. “She was on a Norwegian flight from Oslo to Copenhagen and connected, via Wi-Fi, to our editorial system. We can do this. It enables us to attract new people.”

Enk said Dropbox would enable collaboration across the different companies in the group and avoid the need to transfer documents using FTP.

Staff were already using Dropbox unofficially before Enk selected it as the preferred file-sharing platform. This has helped adoption. Within eight weeks of its introduction, he said 50% of users were on Dropbox Business. 

Cloud ticks security boxes

Aller Group is using multiple public clouds. Enk said the company is using both AWS and Microsoft Azure. The availability of Dropbox via AWS in a German datacentre has enabled the company to begin shifting file servers into the cloud.

“We will move all file servers within six months, giving users access to files from wherever they want,” he added. “We have changed our entire network infrastructure to use the cloud,” he added. In this respect, the company runs dedicated leased lines to AWS and Azure.

One of the interesting conversations Enk had with the business was around security. “When we moved to the cloud, the discussion about security was high. One of those discussions was about availability of staff,” he said.

Enk recognised that cloud providers could attract the best security staff, whereas recruiting such staff is far harder to do in traditional enterprises such as Aller. “Cloud vendors employ people that are better at security than us,” he said.

While at one level, the move to the cloud represents a single point of failure, potentially making the business more vulnerable, Enk found that the cloud had the opposite effect for Aller. “We have been looking at cyber security insurance, and the insurers were happy because the cloud has better security than us,” he said.

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