SAN JOSE: NetSuite reiterated its commitment to finally opening a European data centre by the end of 2015 this week, but the firm still has no concrete details to share on the location of the facility and the specific timeframe.
Speaking at the SuiteWorld event in San Jose, NetSuite CTO and founder Evan Goldberg told delegates that the European data centre will be coming this year, but had little else to say on the matter.
"That's going to be great. I think European customers will see higher performance for regulatory requirements so we'll look for that this year," he briefly added.
Meanwhile, the firm's CEO played down issues over compliance and data privacy as reasons to hurry along the opening of the facility.
"We're not that worried about the compliance environment," Zach Nelson said.
"Even today we have a lot of customers in Europe and they're all using the data centre in the US. It's frankly not about performance as we're delivering great performance out of the data centre even though it's miles away."
Nelson seemed more interested in how the development of a local European facility could help NetSuite ease the pressure at its existing facilities as opposed to allying any concerns customers - or potential customers - might have around data privacy and government access.
"One factor we've discovered as we began to build new data centres that is of great benefit is, it reduces the stress on your data centre," Nelson explained.
"This year we're also adding a third data centre in the US, not because we need a data centre in Seattle for customers in Seattle, but it allows us to really reduce the stress in the data centre for transactions. We're looking to have more data centres rather than fewer."
However, the CEO did acknowledge the firm deals with customer concerns in this area.
"There will be also halo benefits from being in Europe. It will stop a lot of questions. It isn't really any different from having a data centre in Boston, but that will be useful in eliminating the questions," he noted.
Nelson also demonstrated a more relaxed attitude than its new partner Microsoft to the question of the US government wanting access to overseas data. Microsoft is currently battling the US authorities to prevent them from accessing user data stored in its Irish facilities.
"I have a feeling that the UK and the US have treaties where Mr Cameron says, we need to get to that account," Nelson said.
"I know with the Patriot Act, for people in financial services and for some industries, they're really concerned about it based on the type of data, particularly in Europe. I think generally the governmental involvement in some ways is overstated."
Craig Sullivan, senior vice president of International Products at NetSuite also pointed out that the firm already exceeds global standards and requirements around cloud data storage.
"We've spent a long time looking at the requirements. There's a little bit of buzz associated with the legislation in this area and we're continuing to monitor that," he said.
The latest comments from NetSuite are a change in tack to those made by Goldberg back in September 2013, when he was announcing plans for the European data centre, prompted by data privacy concerns.
"All of our data centres are in North America right now and we're starting to see the privacy issue kind of having an impact in so far on sales figures. So European servers are something we're seriously considering," he said at the time.
Goldberg added that customers in countries such as Germany - where data privacy rules are very strict - were looking for servers at the very least based in the EU, if not in Germany.
Other technology vendors have been quicker to act on customer privacy concerns over cloud data protection.
Last September, Oracle opened two new data centres in Germany, aimed at allaying privacy and security concerns German businesses have around data stored in the cloud.
At the time, Loïc le Guisquet, executive vice president for Oracle in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the facilities were in "response to the very strong demand in Germany and response to the questions around security ... Opening them country by country is a mix of some specifity in those countries and also to give some comfort."
Salesforce also opened its first UK data centre last October.
For firms not taking steps to store data in local facilities, other measures are being applied. Amazon recently announced that its cloud services have received approval by the European Union for compliance with data protection regulations worldwide.
The approval came from a group of EU data protection authorities known as the Article 29 Working Party, and refers to the Amazon Web Services Data Processing Agreement (AWS DPA) covering transfer of data from the EU to other regions, giving customers assurance their data is given the same level of protection whether it is stored in a data centre in Europe or elsewhere.
Twitter has also announced a change to its privacy policies for non-US users, along with plans to move customer data onto servers in Ireland in a bid to reassure individuals concerned about privacy regulations and data access.
But it is the aforementioned Microsoft case that has become the most high-profile in this area, with the firm fighting court-approved US government demands for user data that it stores in Ireland.
Microsoft has broad industry support for its campaign, and the Irish government has also raised concerns about the "objectionable" methods employed by US agencies around the process of transferring data.
Microsoft has the support of 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade and advocacy organisations. These include Amazon, Apple, HP, Salesforce, Rackspace, the Open Rights Group and the American Civil Liberties Union.
NetSuite is absent from the list, although whether this is due to the firm disagreeing with the principles or not seeing it as an important enough matter to put its name to, or simply oversight or not being asked to sign up is unclear.
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