How UK businesses can safeguard data against Brexit uncertainty in 2020

Guest Post by Massimo Bandinelli, Marketing Manager, Cloud & Data Centre, Aruba Enterprise…

Brexit has dominated the news cycle ever since the 2016 referendum – even more so of late, as the UK went to the polls for a third general election in four years. The consequences of the ongoing uncertainty have been far-reaching, and businesses in all sectors have been affected.

More than three years later, the nature of the future relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe is yet to be decided.

Will businesses need to find alternative suppliers? Will staff be affected? What will happen in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit? These are just some of the important questions that many companies and individuals are grappling with.

One of the most significant areas of doubt concerns what businesses are going to do with their data. Specifically, how will it be stored and exchanged? The increasing value of data is well-documented (The Economist even claimed its value now exceeds that of oil), so it’s clear that organisations must look to safeguard their business-critical data against Brexit uncertainty in 2020.

When Brexit and GDPR collide

If UK businesses think they’ve finally come to terms with GDPR and its manifold requirements, they’re unfortunately mistaken.

Though a categorical decision is yet to be made, there is a risk that the UK will be regarded as a “third country” following Brexit, no matter the data privacy standards it upholds. In this scenario, the transfer of personal data between UK and EU businesses will be subject to strict data transfer rules.

With data transfers to the UK no longer automatically covered by GDPR, the flow of data across borders will slow to a crawl. This could be particularly catastrophic for companies whose core business models rely upon the seamless exchange of data.

Just as when GDPR first came into effect, all businesses will have to make sure they’re compliant with an unfamiliar set of laws relating to data privacy and exchange. This will place an additional burden on companies that may already be struggling to prepare their operations for a post-election and post-Brexit UK.

Storing data can be costly

Cost will also factor into decisions surrounding how businesses hold, store and exchange data post-Brexit. Specifically, costs associated with the running of energy-intensive data centres.

Data centres consume a huge amount of energy and because the UK imports a significant proportion of its energy, its price is expected to rise due to new tariffs. Industry trade association Energy UK has warned that uncertainty in the sector will lead to increased prices when the UK leaves the EU, increasing bills for business and domestic customers alike.

With the ‘cost per megawatt’ set to increase for UK providers, organisations choosing to base their infrastructure in the UK or elsewhere in Europe are faced with a significant conundrum.

In the context of these issues, what can businesses do to prepare for all their data hosting needs and safeguard against Brexit uncertainty in 2020?

The global and personalised cloud approach

Irrespective of Brexit and its orbiting controversies, the importance of having a comprehensive data management strategy that includes the right mix of private cloud, cloud back-ups, dedicated servers and colocation services isn’t going to disappear in the new year. If anything, it’s going to become even more critical to business success.

Confronted with the challenges of a post-Brexit landscape, UK businesses will need access to state-of-the-art data centres that are connected to the main national and international carriers and are positioned strategically in key geographies. Milan, for example, provides a perfect example of somewhere based in central Europe that can provide super-fast connectivity to every corner of the continent, and even into the Middle East. This range of connectivity will become vital for companies that want to move their data from the UK to the EU, so will be an important factor for businesses to consider.

With Brexit serving to compound existing regulatory complexity, it’s important that businesses partner with a provider that has the latest regulation and security accreditations, and has experience in adapting to regulatory differences. Brexit has emphasised the need for providers to adopt a global cloud approach – one that serves the needs of businesses operating within the jurisdictions of all manner of regulations.

Further, each business has a unique set of data storage requirements that only a highly tailored service can address. For this reason, another key attribute of the ideal 2020 data centre partner will be the ability to create customised data storage plans for clients, depending on the geographies they need to operate within.

The increasingly varied data storage needs, and the sheer volume of data businesses are required to handle and organise, mean generic packages will simply not be fit for purpose in post-Brexit UK.

Many have referred to Brexit as the defining issue of this generation, which applies to businesses as much as it does to broader society. Though it’s impossible for any commentator or analyst to map the post-Brexit landscape with any certainty, it remains important for businesses to put in place whatever measures they can to prepare.

The ability to choose from a European network of data centres will allow businesses to find the perfect location to develop their IT projects and satisfy all their data-related requirements, protecting their interests amidst the fog of political uncertainty.