AWS says it wants in on the European sovereign cloud game

Appealing to growing crowd that wants data outside US jurisdiction

Amazon is planning to launch a dedicated sovereign cloud for customers in Europe with stringent data residency requirements, and claims this will be physically and logically separate from existing AWS Regions.

The cloud behemoth said the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be located and operated entirely within Europe, giving customers an "additional choice" to meet their data residency, operational autonomy, and resiliency needs.

AWS does not yet have a date for when this new dedicated cloud will become operational - it is building up an entirely separate infrastructure region. The first AWS Region to be supported will be in Germany, although the company says it will be available to all European customers.

Target customers for this dedicated cloud include public sector organizations and those in highly regulated industries, and unsurprisingly, many of those AWS says it has already signed up are in Germany.

These include the country's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI), and its Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. Bodies outside Germany that have signed up include Finland's Ministry of Finance, and the national cyber security agencies for Czechia and Romania.

AWS vice president of Sovereign Cloud Max Peterson, said in a statement the move reinforces it's commitment to offering customers "the most advanced set of sovereignty controls, privacy safeguards, and security features available in the cloud."

With this new unit, he claimed, customers across Europe will have "more choice to achieve the operational independence they require, without compromising on the broadest and deepest cloud services that millions of customers already know and use today."

However, The Register understands that the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will launch with just a basic set of core services initially, with additional services to be added later following the launch.

However, customers will experience the same latency and high availability they would expect from existing AWS Regions, the company claims. The European Sovereign Cloud will also have multiple Availability Zones, with infrastructure in separate and distinct geographic locations, to reduce the risk of a single event hitting customers' business continuity, connected via redundant, low-latency networks.

IDC associate research director for European Cloud Rahiel Nasir told us it was "good to have this available from AWS," but questioned whether customers would end carrying the costs of building a separate sovereign cloud.

"Otherwise, this appears to tick lots of the boxes we have for data sovereignty in the cloud," he said.

AWS is not giving away any pricing indications at this point, and we understand that the company does not typically reveal the pricing of services for a new Region before it is launched.

Nasir said IDC's research indicates that organizations with stringent data residency requirements are prepared to use up to 25 percent of their IT budget to pay for a sovereign cloud.

Late mover

AWS is actually something of a latecomer to the sovereign cloud game in Europe.

Microsoft announced last year that would implement an EU Data Boundary by the end of 2022, allowing customers to store and process all data within Europe. It also announced Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty aimed at public sector customers and government bodies, which it opened up for a public preview earlier this month.

Google Cloud revealed back in 2021 that it was building a sovereign cloud for German enterprises, public sector and healthcare organizations in partnership with T-Systems, part of Deutsche Telekom.

Oracle also announced plans in 2022 for sovereign cloud regions, now known as EU Sovereign Cloud and formed of two regions in Spain and Germany separate from Oracle’s commercial and government cloud regions.

Earlier this year, a Swedish startup called Evroc disclosed plans to build Europe's first "secure, sovereign, and sustainable hyperscale cloud," and put an end to "foreign dominance of the European cloud market," which presumably came as news to France-based pan-European cloud operator OVHcloud.

Many of these moves to introduce European sovereign clouds follow proposed rules by the EU that would require that customer data be stored and processed within the region. ®

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