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Data residency, sovereignty inspire Oracle action in Canada

Oracle built a new data center in Canada to address data residency and data sovereignty concerns of the country's public sector and large corporations.

Driven by concerns over data residency and data sovereignty, Oracle opened its first Canadian data center in Toronto last week. Public institutions and companies in Canada that have interest in software as a service (SaaS), but only if the country's data residency and data sovereignty goals remain intact, can now more comfortably discuss possible cloud moves with Oracle.

From Oracle's perspective, the development is "about saying [the data center is] in the borders and we can continue the conversation," said Mario Meroni, the company's vice president of public sector applications.

The data center, which has been planned since November 2013, will support Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud and Oracle Customer Experience Cloud applications. The choice of applications to support is driven by the needs of the public sector, Meroni said. For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is useful for managing public finances, human capital management (HCM) for managing government employees and consumer experience (CX) for handling a citizen's data. In fact, while some of the concerns over data residency and data sovereignty come from the larger corporations, the largest driver for a data center based in Canada is the needs of the public sector.

A data center in Canada is 'critical table stakes to play in this market.'
Mario Meronivice president of public sector applications, Oracle

Much like in the U.S., data privacy is a hot topic in Canada, and two major issues are at play: data residency and data sovereignty. Data residency refers to the physical location at which data is housed. Data sovereignty refers to the idea that data stored in a particular country is subject to the laws of that nation. When a company keeps its data on premises, information hopping across borders isn't something to worry about. However, as a company moves data off premises to the cloud using a SaaS arrangement -- which many public sector entities want to do, Meroni said -- it becomes important to know where data is, so as to understand what laws govern it. Meroni said that hosting Canadian public sector information outside of the country "wouldn't pass the front-page test." No one wants government data traveling outside that government's borders.

Many Oracle customers won't consider SaaS unless they can ensure data residency, and thus, data sovereignty, in Canada, Meroni said. This includes not only public sector institutions, such as healthcare facilities and universities, but also commercial interests, including banks and insurance carriers. Having a data center in Canada is an important way for Oracle to continue to seek more business there, Meroni said. It's "critical table stakes to play in this market," he added.

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