Sep 01

Enterprises in Europe need more control over their PPM data

Cloud technologies have been transforming the IT industry for more than two decades. However, some enterprises – especially those operating in the EU and subject to GDPR – remain hesitant about implementing cloud-based Project and Portfolio Management solutions. The 8th generation of BigPicture aims to change it. Enterprise users will soon choose the location of their data center.

According to IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey, nearly 60% of IT buyers expect to be mostly or entirely in the cloud within 18 months, while 38% claim to be there already. Furthermore, 50% of participants of the RightScale 2020 State of The Cloud survey predicts that due to the COVID-19 pandemic their cloud usage will be higher than initially planned.

It seems that for a vast majority of enterprises, going all-cloud is not a matter of if anymore but rather of how and when. Nonetheless, talking about the cloud in the context of Project and Portfolio Management software is a bit more complicated than in the case of, say, consumer SaaS. Security, legal, and performance-related issues imply demand for more control over where the cloud data is stored.

Cloudy trade-offs

Advanced PPM solutions are used mostly by large organizations where data security standards are high and quite strict. Mitigation of risk sometimes prevails over the desire for flexibility and performance. When selecting enterprise software, CIOs, CTOs and other managers usually search for the best trade-off between multiple features. That’s why some organizations still prefer on-prem solutions rather than SaaS. At the very same time, though, cloud-based solutions are thriving – being adopted by enterprises around the world. Yet, the adoption of cloud in global corporations is feasible only under certain conditions.

Critical and sensitive PPM data and regulations

For many companies, Project and Portfolio Management software is critical. The data processed by applications such as BigPicture or Jira is often considered sensitive. Information about what specific teams are working on, how far ahead or behind the schedule they are, what undertakings are still in the backlog, who’s assigned to what tasks, what alternative scenarios the company takes into account should something go wrong, could be priceless for unfair competitors. Furthermore, resources management modules of leading PPM platforms are more than often used to process personal data of employees, so they must be fully compliant with local and international privacy protection regulations.

While over 60% of CIOs and CTOs surveyed by Nominet believe the risk of a security breach is the same or lower in cloud environments compared to on-prem, Network World’s Neal Weinberg points out that despite far-going cybersecurity and legal measures taken by the leading IaaS providers, in regions subject to GDPR or similar regulations, auditors and compliance officers remain wary when it comes to going cloud.

It is hard not to see their point in the face of the ongoing disputes between economic superpowers and the ever-changing interpretation of existing laws. Therefore, storing data in the region where it belongs seems to be the most reasonable, the least risky solution.

The closer, the faster

Besides security and data protection regulations, performance issues play an essential role in the enterprise cloud revolution. The greater the distance between the end user and the data center, the bigger the latency delay. The laws of physics are implacable. As explained by Commscope’s Joseph Coffey, in any optical fiber system, there are at least five latency contributions. While four of those depend on system architecture, the protocol used, and the equipment involved, latency contributed by the transmission media (a cable) is a fixed value per unit length, so the longer the transmission line, the greater the latency contribution.

In other words, for cloud-based systems to be perceivably as fast as on-prem solutions, data centers for specific regions should be located in those regions.  Otherwise, latency might become noticeable for users and working with even the most intuitive tools can feel annoyingly cumbersome.

Choose your cloud

While working on the 8th generation of BigPicture, we have realized that in the light of the above, we need to give our cloud Enterprise clients greater control over their data. Until recently, all BigPicture cloud data was stored in the US. Now, our users will be able to choose between the US and Germany, and the list of available locations will grow gradually.

Put merely, our clients from Europe will gain certainty that all their data is stored within the EU-borders where all the GDPR requirements are met. Furthermore, the data center in Germany will give a vast majority of our European clients access to the service within the distance of 1000 kilometers (compared with the current few thousand kilometers between Europe and Virginia).

Taking into account the laws of physics and the limitations of fiber-optic cables that transmit data at the speed of around 70% of the lightspeed in a vacuum, the current minimum lag time of 70ms per roundtrip may be reduced to just 10-20ms.

For most enterprises, moving to the cloud is inevitable. One of the major principles of BigPicture is to help companies get through digital transformation their way, on their very own conditions, including those concerning the adoption of the cloud.

About The Author

Tom Kucharski - Software Engineer and CEO of SoftwarePlant