European internet

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LCL Belgium

LCL: As we think about a European internet, let’s rethink internet architecture

It was Angela Merkel who first suggested creating a ‘European internet’. I strongly support this idea. Today, most internet providers are based in the US. The backbone providers, however, are all US companies. Under US law, they must hand over any information they store to the US government when requested to do so, even if the information is stored in Europe. This was made crystal clear by the verdict of the trial recently lost by Microsoft, which challenged the obligation to supply the US government on demand with information stored outside of the US. It would seem that the US really is acting like ‘Big Brother’, which is obviously unacceptable to us Europeans, particularly since US companies are opposed to it, too. But what can we do?

If all European data is kept within European networks and at European companies, there would be no obligation whatsoever to deliver any data to the NSA or US government services in general. European networks could be linked directly, rather than through the US internet backbones. We could create something similar to the Shengen zone for our data. This can be achieved by linking European internet exchanges. Each country has at least one internet exchange. The European Commission could promote direct encrypted links between these data traffic exchanges. The longer the data stays on a European network, the smaller the risk that it will be used against us by third parties.

These measures would certainly allow us to secure our data a lot more than we can at present. But that wouldn’t be the only advantage. Data would be delivered much faster if it didn’t have to go all the way to the US and back.

As we think about a European internet, let’s rethink the architecture of the internet in general. We could make the infrastructure more robust, and reach new agreements on protocols, all the while making sure that the internet remains open and neutral, of course. For instance, we could try to find ways to prevent viruses from spreading around the world in an instant, and try to limit spamming. But the biggest problem of all is DDoS attacks, and we should try our hardest to make a denial of service impossible. An innovative anti-DDoS infrastructure, ‘Nawas’, has been developed in the Netherlands, so relevant knowledge and initiatives already exist within Europe.

Let’s bring techies and academics together and create a think-tank to make our internet better, more secure and more efficient. I feel that Europe should take a leading role in this. It would, among other things, put Europe back on the map as a region full of vision and potential, and a force to be reckoned with!

Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL data centers

Cost comparison inhouse versus outsourced

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LCL Belgium

Is outsourcing the new norm in the land of data centers?

As the world becomes more and more global, organizations are constantly working to improve their performance while their budgets keep being cut. What should they invest in, and where should they make cuts, to ensure they can still grow? Following recent scandals involving the NSA, data security and privacy are now higher on the agenda than ever before. Should organizations invest in their own server rooms or data centers, or are they better off using an external data center?

Generally speaking, organizations that handle matters in-house have to contend with higher setup costs and make greater investments, but they expect to have lower operating costs in subsequent years. Given the ever-growing threats to security and privacy, organizations need to take every precaution to protect their data, and so there should be no economizing when it comes to data centers. But with money being tight, funding difficult to obtain, and the economy in poor shape, the setup costs present a challenge for many organizations. And that’s not all.

Our extensive research into the cost of in-house and external data centers and server rooms shows that for larger organizations the operating costs of an in-house data center are as high as those of an external data center. For smaller organizations, with only 7-8 racks, operating costs are somewhat lower if they have an in-house data center than if they have an external partner. Given that the investment they make lasts for about 10 years, this means there is a large question mark. It is also important to remember that, in addition to a quality server room or data center, there also needs to be a disaster fall-back solution, in other words a second server room or data center, in order to be really safe.

We presented our research to some larger companies, which confirmed the numbers. They felt the numbers might even have underestimated the true situation: the operating expenses of an in-house data center are probably higher than those associated with an external partner, rather than being comparable, given the lack of economies of scale. Moreover, one IT manager of a listed company admitted that in these difficult economic times he had trouble convincing his CEO of the need for certain investments in their in-house data center. He felt that data protection at their organization was not up to scratch. A quality external data center has data protection and privacy as its core business, and so I can imagine that outsourcing reduces stress levels for some IT managers, because they know for sure that their data is secure and will remain so, no matter what new threats appear on the horizon. Plus there is, as always, the issue of politics, when it comes to insourcing or outsourcing.

This is all food for thought. I wish all IT managers peaceful days and restful nights. Do you want to double-check our numbers for yourself? If so, contact me at laurens.van.reijen@lcl.be.

Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL data centers