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Can Your Data Center Survive a Subpoena?

Industry shudders as judge orders Microsoft to hand over foreign-based email

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Part of the compelling appeal of today’s networking architectures is the growing ease of locating data in remote data centers. But for companies whose footprints spread across international borders, that flexibility became a lot more complicated when Microsoft lost a bid to quash a subpoena that requires it to hand over to U.S. prosecutors customer emails housed on cloud-based servers in Ireland.

That ruling, while being appealed, no doubt has many corporate legal departments scrambling to determine how this kind of precedent might impact their own futures, either in terms of their dependence on cloud providers, or their own foreign data center operations.

Some companies use the cloud to consolidate international data centers where they can take advantages of greater efficiencies and local skills. And cloud has been promoted as a way to eliminate borders in the supply chain. 

Still, in the fallout to the Snowden leaks, knowing where data resides in the cloud can be crucial to maintaining control and complying with regulations regarding protection of data.

If U.S. jurisdiction can extend to foreign countries, one has to wonder how foreign countries will react in terms of utilizing their own jurisdictions. Some may be less business-friendly, particularly when it comes to companies based outside their borders. 

Regardless of how the Microsoft case plays out, it’s illustrative that when it comes to borders, businesses need to be able to move quickly to move information assets out of a particular country when the environment turns hostile.

Virtualization and good file management solutions make it possible to quickly manage files located in remote offices and data centers. Businesses can make files viewable without having to store them in those foreign locations, or can quickly move them from jurisdictions that are becoming less friendly.

As Brocade notes in a relevant white paper, “Organizations can transparently migrate files from remote offices and consolidate them in a central data center where they can be stored, archived, and backed up more reliably and efficiently. These files can then be migrated seamlessly in the background without disrupting user access.”

No internationally-oriented company wants to be forced to operate all of its data operations within its home country, but take steps to be able to move quickly to protect assets that may be in jeopardy is just good business practice.

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