Where is your data?

by | Jan 18, 2016 | Blog

If I asked you to name a cloud provider you’d probably either think of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. Probably in that order.

AWS is currently the undoubted king of the cloud, with Microsoft fighting back strongly and Google seemingly failing at something for once.

Behind this trio there is a raft of other vendors like RackSpace, IBM, Verizon, HP and CenturyLink Cloud.

Century who?

Yep, that was my response as well, but in the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work with CenturyLink Cloud for reasons I wouldn’t normally have expected.

First a disclaimer. Ordinarily I recommend that my clients use AWS or Microsoft Azure as they have the most features and options, amazing uptime statistics and frequently offer the lowest monthly cost for smaller sized VMs.

However, this project involved hosting Canadian sovereign data and both AWS and Azure were missing something very crucial:

A data center located in Canada!

In fact, not just one data center, this project required two data centers in Canada; one for production and one for disaster recovery, but at the time of writing none of AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google or RackSpace have any data centers in Canada.

Enter CenturyLink! They currently have three data centers in Canada so immediately became the number one option for the project.

The requirement for data to remain in its country of origin raised some interesting observations regarding the strategy of cloud data center locations. When AWS and Microsoft first started out with their global strategies it is obvious they thought huge regional data centers in cheaper locations would be sufficient for all neighboring countries, i.e. Canadians to use US based data centers, Brits to use data centers based in Ireland, etc. But the rewriting of the compliance laws and data sovereignty legislation by many countries has resulted in this approach no longer being sufficient.

In 2015 Microsoft announced plans to create two Canadian based data centers (to be online “sometime in 2016”) and also one in the UK. Late last year AWS announced plans for a UK data center and just last week they announced the creation of a data center in Montreal. Obviously I’d like to think this was a direct reaction to my project!

What we are now witnessing is some sort of new age gold rush as the first to market in each new territory is is going to have a huge advantage. The following table shows where data centers exist and will exist and I plan to come back to this in 6 months time to see how things have changed as the competition heats up.

Microsoft Azure CenturyLink AWS Google Cloud
Canada 0 (2 in construction) 3 0 (1 in construction) 0
USA 8 6 4 ( 1 in construction) 8
UK 0 (1 in construction) 2 0 (1 in construction) 0
Ireland 1 0 1 1
Netherlands 1 0 0 1
Belgium 0 0 0 1
Finland 0 0 0 1
Germany 0 (2 in construction) 1 1 0
Singapore 1 1 1 1
China/Hong Kong 0 0 1 (1 in construction) 1
Japan 2 0 1 0
Australia 2 0 1 0
India 2 0 0 (1 in construction) 0
Brazil 1 0 1 0

So where will this leave CenturyLink after AWS and Microsoft have entered the market in Canada flexing their considerable financial muscles? I imagine they’ll squeeze out the little guy and take over in a similar vein to Walmart and Target.

But that hasn’t happened yet and so far I’m impressed with the customer support and flexibility of the CenturyLink cloud offerings, so much so that I intend to write a separate blog post about my experiences with them.

Until the next time…

To streamline your migration to AWS, just email me at marcw@databasable.com.