Google launches UK data residency options for Vertex AI users

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Infrastructure

To gain data sovereignty points, Google Cloud has announced it will enable UK Vertex AI customers to store their data within their borders. Customers of the generative AI service can choose to host their data in any of the 10 listed countries, spread out across Asia, Europe, North America, and now the UK.

Data residency choice is now supported for customers based in Korea, Singapore, Japan, Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada, and the US. Google Cloud said it is working on making residency options available in more regions as time passes.

Vertex AI delivers several large language models to users, including Meta’s PaLM 2, Codey, and Imagen models, and Text Embeddings and Multimodal Embeddings APIs. Warren Barkley, senior director of product management for AI at Google Cloud, called the change part of an orchestrated mission to offer data residency to customers amid a slowly changing regulatory environment worldwide.

Compliance and privacy concerns changed things

Barkley said customer data protection and privacy have “always been core to Google’s cloud mission” and called this commitment more critical than ever as AI rapidly rises in the public consciousness amid mass adoption.

He added that this is part of Google’s “ongoing commitment to expand data residency” for its customers and meet industry demands. Lawmakers in the European Union have pushed for stricter rules as concerns over data privacy become louder.

A Capgemini report in 2022 found that many organizations worldwide plan to introduce sovereignty options for customers, primarily due to concerns surrounding compliance. The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) announced plans in May to create a ‘cyber security label’ for non-EU companies operating in the bloc.

What US cloud companies are expected to do

The proposals would force cloud providers like Microsoft, AWS, and Google to enter a ‘joint venture’ with an EU-based company for regulatory reasons. The move is part of a regulatory crackdown via the EU certification scheme (EUCS), whose mission is to create a union-wide certification regime for cloud providers and companies handling EU data.

Many cloud companies now offer data sovereignty options in response to the changes. For instance, AWS announced in October the launch of its European Sovereign Cloud; Microsoft announced sovereignty options as early as last year, a service aimed at public sector customers, allowing their data to remain within the union.

Oracle wasn’t left behind and announced its European sovereign cloud in May to meet regulatory requirements. The tech giant said the EU sovereign cloud will give more control over data privacy and sovereignty.

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