Dropbox Expanding Into Europe, Will Host Customer Data in Germany

The data storage center in Germany, which has the strictest data-protection regulations in Europe, will be a major selling point for Dropbox Business storage.

Cloud storage and enterprise collaboration tools provider Dropbox is now getting settled in Europe, where more stringent data-privacy laws are expected to be enacted by the European Union later this year.

The San Francisco-based company revealed Feb. 11 that it will begin hosting data from users in Germany using Amazon Web Services cloud services.

Dropbox thus becomes the latest U.S. Web services provider to launch dedicated data storage services on the continent. IBM, with its Blue Cloud, AWS, Google, Microsoft, HPE and lesser-known Internap also have established their own cloud service data centers in Europe.

In recent months, EU rules have been stiffened by a high court in requiring data that is created in its individual member countries' geographic locations to remain within storage and servers inside those geographic boundaries. Cloud services can be used for copy data, but the original data must be housed in geocentric servers.

Not as Easy Anymore to Transfer Data from U.S. to EU

The rollback last fall of the original Safe Harbor framework that made it easy for companies to transfer data between data centers in Europe and the United States, while staying within the limits of European privacy laws, has caused uncertainty for businesses that operate data centers on both sides of the Atlantic. Dropbox is well aware of this uncertainty as it moves into the market for the first time.

Dropbox Global Vice President of Sales Thomas Hansen said the company is committed to "deploying data infrastructure in Europe in 2016." Hansen, in a blog post published Feb. 11, said the company will get the AWS deployment up and running by December.

Dropbox said it will open an office in Hamburg to focus its efforts on selling into Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Hansen said that doing this will increase the trust and security protection for European customers, especially as discussions around new EU-U.S. data movement laws continue.

The creation of the new data storage center in Germany, which has the strictest data protection regulations in Europe, will undoubtedly be a major selling point to persuade some firms to use Dropbox Business for cloud data storage.

U.S. Storage Providers Being Ultra-Careful

U.S. cloud providers have taken steps to make sure they continue to provide services legally using means other than the Safe Harbor framework, but actual consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling remain unclear—nearly four months after the court struck down the Safe Harbor regulations.

Attorney David Snead, co-founder of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, a U.S. advocacy group whose members include Google, Amazon and Equinix, among others, told Data Center Knowledge last fall that there are two schools of thought on the subject.

"One is that Safe Harbor is dead," he said. "The other, which I think is actually the accurate answer, is that the European Union, and the European Commission in particular, need to figure out how to interpret the ruling.”

Internet businesses, including Dropbox beginning in the fall, will continue to operate in ambiguity until the commission issues its interpretation.

Dropbox also has opened an office in Amsterdam as part of its new focus on Europe.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...