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Gartner Forecasts Physical Location of Data Irrelevant by 2020

Gartner predicts that by 2020, the physical location of data will become irrelevant and concerns will be replaced by a combination of other methods.

Vice-President Researcher of Gartner- Carsten calculates that the exact physical location where companies store their data will become “increasingly irrelevant” in the post-Prism era and that the actual location will be determined by a combination of political, legal and logical considerations.

The technology research and analytic firm Gartner who offers ‘World-class objective insight on virtually any area of IT’ has discovers that the number of data residency and sovereignty discussions has dramatically risen in the last year stalling technology innovation in many organisations. Gartner believes this information and physical location concerns have been fuelled by recent revelations of NSA surveillance.

Carsten has said that “IT leaders find themselves entangled in data residency discussions on different levels with various stakeholders such as legal advisors, customers, regulatory authorities, employee representatives, business management and the public,” however he acknowledged that currently, the physical location of data is still an important factor to organisations. He predicts though that this will alter in the near future with businesses becoming more aware of virtual services throughout the World.

Previously, corporations believed the physical location was linked with the physical control over data and security, however as locally stored data can now be accessed remotely, the desire for physical control still exists, especially among regulatory bodies.

Gartner believes that many IT professionals are not aware of the concept of legal location and that “there could be another legal entity that processes the data on behalf of the first entity, such as an IT service provider; and a third legal entity that supports the second one – possibly a datacentre in India. For example, a German company signs a contract with the Irish subsidiary of a US cloud provider, fully aware that a backup of all data is physically stored in a datacentre in India. While the legal location of the provider would be Ireland, the political location would be the US and the physical location would be India, logically, all data could still be in Germany” he explained.

Gartner believes that currently “none of the types of data location options solves the data residency problem alone” and that “the future will be a hybrid where enterprises use multiple locations with multiple service delivery models.”


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