There is no denying that data is the lifeblood of businesses. Protecting this invaluable asset is extremely important, particularly in a world where data breaches and privacy concerns are on the rise. This article explores the concept of sovereign cloud and its important role in safeguarding data sovereignty for Malaysian enterprises.
We will explore what sovereign cloud includes, its benefits, its distinctions from private clouds, the local regulations and laws governing it, the associated challenges, strategies to mitigate the risks, and how to make an informed choice when selecting a sovereign cloud provider.
What Is Sovereign Cloud and Why Is It Essential?
Sovereign Cloud is a cloud computing architecture meticulously designed to ensure data access in full compliance with local laws and regulations. The core objective of sovereign cloud is to guarantee that data, including metadata, remains shielded from foreign access and fully adheres to the privacy mandates of the originating country.
Moreover, with cloud sovereignty, sovereign cloud providers are required to keep a close watch on their systems and show that they are following the rules about data privacy and security in the area where the data is stored.
They have to prove this by regularly checking their records, which keep track of who has permission to access the data and how the data is moved around during a specific period of time. This helps ensure that the data is handled in a way that complies with the local laws regarding privacy and security.
Data sovereignty is the key focus of this innovative approach, signifying the authority and control a country or organization has over its data, regardless of where it’s stored or processed.
This is a critical consideration as data has evolved into a powerful commodity. By maintaining data on local servers within the country’s borders, sovereign cloud offers a secure means of data protection.
Malaysian Local Regulations and Laws on Sovereign Cloud
Local regulations and laws in Malaysia play a fundamental role in shaping the landscape of sovereign cloud. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has established a comprehensive regulatory framework covering the National Policy Objectives of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the National Cyber Security 2006, and the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.
These regulations create a multifaceted framework to protect personal data in commercial transactions, while simultaneously upholding information security, network reliability, infrastructure integrity, and overall data sovereignty.
Trends of Sovereign Cloud in Malaysian Enterprises
Malaysia has taken proactive steps to uphold its digital sovereignty by implementing policies and frameworks designed to enhance data security. The regulatory framework in Malaysia includes the National Policy Objectives of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.
These legal and policy instruments form a comprehensive cross-sectoral framework that safeguards personal data in commercial transactions, ensuring the security, integrity, and reliability of information, networks, and infrastructure. The importance of data sovereignty in Malaysia is further highlighted by the surging demand for secure, locally operated cloud services.
As the threat continues to evolve, the need for robust data protection and the preservation of digital sovereignty has become increasingly urgent. The government has recognized the importance of creating and implementing systems to overcome these evolving threats.
Sovereign Cloud vs. Private Cloud
Understanding the difference between sovereign and private clouds is vital, as sovereign clouds offer unique control and compliance through local providers.
It’s crucial to differentiate sovereign cloud from private cloud solutions. While private clouds are typically controlled by a single organization, sovereign clouds are operated by domestic providers and are subject to local regulations. The primary distinction lies in their degree of control and their strict adherence to local regulations.
Challenges of Using Sovereign Cloud
Despite its numerous advantages, sovereign cloud is not without its challenges. One of the primary challenges is the complexity of data classification. Organizations must discern which data is critical and sensitive, as well as ascertain how it adheres to national and regional security standards.
Data classification includes categorizing data into tiers such as public, confidential, or restricted, with variations based on specific countries or regions. Additionally, different types of industry data, such as national, corporate, or personal, may necessitate various security measures. As a result, a comprehensive data and application assessment is essential.
Mitigating Risks through Managed Services
To mitigate the risks associated with sovereign cloud, managed services become an important solution. These services provide expertise in handling data flows, conducting data protection impact assessments (DPIAs), and categorizing data appropriately.
1. Data Flows and Classification
Managed services providers have the expertise to help organizations manage their data effectively. One of the initial steps in mitigating risks is understanding how data flows within an organization. This involves tracking the movement of data from its point of creation to where it’s stored and processed, and eventually to its point of consumption.
Managing data flows helps ensure that sensitive information doesn’t inadvertently leave the country’s borders. Additionally, managed services providers can assist in the classification of data. Data can be categorized into various levels, such as public, confidential, or restricted, depending on its sensitivity.
These classifications help organizations determine which data should be stored within sovereign clouds to meet compliance and data sovereignty requirements.
2. Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
Prior to migrating data to a sovereign cloud, organizations should conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). A DPIA is a comprehensive evaluation of how data processing impacts privacy and data protection. It identifies and mitigates risks associated with data processing activities.
In this regard, managed services providers are well-equipped to perform DPIAs, ensuring that all potential data privacy and security issues are addressed. This step is crucial for understanding the potential risks associated with data processing in a sovereign cloud environment.
3. Selecting the Right Sovereign Cloud Provider
Choosing the right sovereign cloud provider for your organization extremely important. Reputable and established providers, such as VMware Cloud with Exabytes (Enterprise EVC), Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and AWS, offer sovereign cloud services carefully designed to meet specific regulatory and compliance requirements.
When selecting a provider, it’s important to consider the following factors to ensure that the provider aligns with the organization’s specific needs and the regulatory landscape of the region.
4. Local Compliance and Certification
The foremost criterion for evaluating a sovereign cloud provider is its ability to comply with local data sovereignty regulations and certifications. In Malaysia, as in many other countries, there are specific laws and standards that govern the storage and processing of sensitive data.
The chosen provider should be able to demonstrate a deep understanding of these regulations and show a commitment to upholding them. Look for certifications and compliance measures that validate the provider’s commitment to data sovereignty.
5. Data Residency
Data residency refers to the physical location where data is stored and processed. It’s essential to ensure that the sovereign cloud provider maintains data residency within the boundaries of the nation.
This guarantees that sensitive data is not subject to foreign access, thereby upholding data sovereignty. Additionally, data residency compliance ensures that data remains within the jurisdiction of local data privacy laws and regulations.
6. Security Measures
Data security is of utmost importance when selecting a sovereign cloud provider. Look for providers that implement robust security measures, including data encryption, access controls, and stringent security protocols.
Data stored in sovereign clouds should be encrypted both in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access. Access controls should limit data access to authorized users, and regular monitoring and auditing should be in place to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.
7. Scalability and Flexibility
Your organization’s data needs may evolve over time. Therefore, the chosen sovereign cloud provider should offer scalability and flexibility in its services. Ensure that the provider can accommodate your data growth and adapt to changing business requirements. Scalability allows your organization to expand its data storage and processing capabilities without major disruptions.
8. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
SLAs define the terms and conditions of service between your organization and the cloud provider. Examine the SLAs closely to understand the commitments of the provider regarding uptime, data availability, and support.
A reliable sovereign cloud provider should offer solid SLAs that align with your business needs and provide a clear framework for dispute resolution in case of service disruptions.
9. Disaster Recovery and Redundancy
Unforeseen events, such as natural disasters or hardware failures, can disrupt data access and pose risks to data sovereignty. The sovereign cloud provider should have comprehensive disaster recovery and redundancy measures in place. This ensures that data remains accessible even in adverse situations and prevents data loss.
9. Customer Support and Response Time
Assess the quality of customer support provided by the sovereign cloud provider. Timely response to queries and issues is essential to maintaining the integrity of data and ensuring smooth operations. Verify the provider’s reputation for responsiveness and willingness to assist in case of emergencies.
For instance, Exabytes provides reliable, round-the-clock, 24/7 professional support via Phone, WhatsApp, Live Chat, Email, and KB (knowledgebase).
10. Cost Structure and Transparency
Understand the pricing model of the sovereign cloud provider. Ensure that the cost structure is transparent and aligns with your budget. Hidden fees or unclear pricing can lead to unexpected financial burdens. Seek a provider that offers transparent pricing and helps you optimize your costs.
11. Track Record and Reputation
Research the provider’s track record and reputation in the industry. Consider factors like the provider’s history of compliance, customer feedback, and successful case studies. A provider with a strong track record is more likely to deliver on its promises and protect data sovereignty effectively.
All in all, data sovereignty is a critical concern for enterprises in Malaysia and across the globe. Sovereign cloud offers a robust solution for safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring compliance with local regulations.
With Malaysia actively adopting sovereign cloud solutions and local regulations, enterprises must adapt their cloud strategies to align with these evolving demands. By working with trusted cloud providers and leveraging managed services, Malaysian enterprises can confidently advance in the intricate data landscape and harness the opportunities presented by the digital age.
Data is the cornerstone of modern business, and safeguarding its sovereignty is the foundation for a secure and prosperous future. For further information about VMware Cloud with Exabytes (Enterprise EVC), visit here.