Network Connectivity
Big Data

Data Sovereignty and the Network: Critical Factors for Moving Traffic with BCE Global’s Michael Sutherland

Data storage and movement practices are rapidly changing. In fact, it is predicted that 94% of workloads will be processed in cloud data centers in 2021. With this growth, global data center IP traffic is forecasted to reach 20.6 zettabytes (ZBs); companies need to be prepared for the demand.

As such, new practices in regards to data sovereignty, data residency, and data movement are being implemented worldwide. How companies such as cloud providers store and move data is being met with increased scrutiny. 

To understand how companies can prepare for these changes, we spoke with a subject matter expert on both the Global landscape and the Canadian marketplace; Michael Sutherland, Head of Global Product and Marketing of a major telecommunications provider, BCE Global, a division of Bell Canada, to get his insights into the key considerations for organizations. 

State of data sovereignty in Canada

In Canada, federal and provincial laws and regulations govern how organizations collect, use, and disclose personal information. Organizations may also have their own data residency requirements and classification standards to handle various data levels - especially those in highly regulated industries such as finance and healthcare. Data moving through or stored within Canada’s borders can be subject to these regulations and policies.  

Michael explains, "When data flows through or resides in a country, it can be subject to that country’s data privacy legislation which can include strict measures including compelling an organization to turn over data in certain circumstances. This has made the location of stored data and data in transit increasingly important as demand for cloud-based applications continues to surge." 

In BCE Global’s case, three diverse routes are available to customers that run from coast-to-coast. One path, shared amongst many Canadian service providers, dips briefly into the U.S., potentially making data transmitted along that route subject to U.S. data and information privacy laws.  Significant investments were made to create an alternate route that remains 100% in Canada on a fully diverse network to help keep data within Canada.

Michael says, "Laws and regulations will continue to evolve, data privacy and management policies will continue to be prevalent, and policymakers will continue to seek to implement programs to protect their constituents.”

Compliance responsibilities at the organization level

Organizations may have to demonstrate that they are meeting various regulations and policies around the storage and movement of data and how they treat data responsibly. The penalties for data breaches can be very high, as we've learned in such cases as British Airways, Equifax and Google who each faced massive fines in recent years.

To help ensure their network setup is compliant, organizations look to trusted service providers for support. Many global networks run through various countries to connect regions and can therefore be subject to multiple regulations when transporting data across them. 

Michael says, "Companies are taking more responsibility to ensure they are compliant. They're becoming more aware and developing a stronger relationship with their preferred carriers – who are, in turn, helping companies to meet their data residency requirements and those of their end users."

He adds that one of the ways enterprises can help ensure data remains sovereign is to choose a carrier with fiber routes that remain within a certain country or jurisdiction. 

To grow and evolve its networks, such as their fiber-optic network and expand their 4G and 5G networks, Michael says, BCE Global has "...made industry-leading capital expenditures of approximately $4 billion in communications infrastructure and new network builds in 2019. We are now connecting over 22 million customers, spanning over 270,000 kilometers and a fiber footprint that reaches over 9.7 million homes and business in Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, and the Atlantic provinces.”

Contributor: Michael Sutherland, Vice President, Product and Marketing, BCE Global

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Michael brings more than 20 years of telecommunications experience to his role as Vice President of Product and Marketing.

Michael joined Bell Canada in 1997. Over the course of his career, he has held various senior positions in product management, marketing, product development and implementation, finance, call center management, carrier relations procurement and e-channels. His deep understanding of the wholesale telecommunications industry helps his teams to deliver innovative solutions that meet our customers’ unique needs.

Michael holds Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with honours, from Wilfred Laurier University.

Outside of work, Michael is actively involved in community sports and currently serves as President of the Kemptville District Soccer Club.

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