Artmotion CEO Mateo Meier on security, storage and a Swiss Cloud

The negative press surrounding the cloud computing industry following the NSA PRISM leaks in June wasn’t a huge surprise.

But there are usually winners and losers in every situation – and Swiss cloud service providers stand to gain the most from the scandal.

Due to the country’s more stringent data privacy laws – a formal request from a prosecutor would have to be sent off before a CSP allows access to data in Switzerland – those at the eye of the storm are experiencing greater uptake.

Artmotion, based in Zurich, is one of these companies: in the month following the scandal, revenue went up 45%.

But as CEO Mateo Meier (left) points out, the advantages of storing data in Switzerland have been there from day one.

"Most companies ask themselves about the level of risk when it comes to the discussion where to store their data,” Meier tells CloudTech in an email. “And exactly this is where we, Swiss, have great advantages.

“Switzerland is a neutral, independent country located in the centre of Europe, which is surrounded by the Alps. Furthermore, we are environmentally safe and our history shows a high political stability.

“Beside the fact that we are not a part of the EU, we still share excellent international relations,” he adds.

The groundswell of opinion for the US market, however, is markedly different. Back in August the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicted that the US cloud industry could lose as much as $35bn due to reneged market share by 2017.

Meier, whose company stands to be one of the main benefactors, agrees.

“From my point of view, the US cloud industry is about to lose vast sums due to PRISM in the following two to three years,” he says.

“The US dominance in cloud services will be challenged by rival countries, especially those in the European Union and in Asia,” Meier adds, although noting that the situation is nowhere near being settled as information becomes clearer.

Yet Meier admits – as CipherCloud’s senior execs did last week – that PRISM had given his company a shot in the arm.

“At the moment, many international companies are anxious about PRISM,” says Meier. “And it has been a highly discussed topic with our customers on telephone calls.

“The insecurity caused by NSA PRISM therefore has been an advantage for us so far,” he adds.

Elsewhere, Swisscom was forced to deny reports that its newly built national ‘Swiss cloud’ was part of a wider strategy to grab customers disillusioned with US vendors post-PRISM.

Meier sees it as a logical move for the telco, adding that their value proposition differs from Artmotion.

“In my opinion, Swisscom’s idea of launching a nationwide ‘Swiss Cloud’ is a useful tool for their customers,” he explains. “Their target audience are mostly families, businesses, young people and so on, which show no specific interest in storing their data on a highly secured infrastructure.”

Yet Meier adds that the Swiss people are “precautious” about the cloud.

“Although Switzerland is open minded towards new technology, and cloud services have been around here for some time, we are a very precautious nation and there has only been a slow growth of cloud services,” Meier says.

“Whether the Swiss market will take ‘the cloud’ or not is arguable,” he continues. “Therefore, it is important that we look at this matter from a much broader perspective.

“When it comes to large corporations and enterprises within the Swiss market, data has shown that cloud services grow slowly, especially in the security industry. It grows faster in the B2C and SME market,” he adds.

But why? Meier adds that, out of 10 customers, on average seven to eight do not order standard cloud-based services. “The most reasonable explanation lies within the desire to physically separate sensitive data from each other, not only server-sided but also in terms of used firewall solutions,” he explains.

Given the potentially devastating repercussions suffered earlier this year following the PRISM leaks, slow and steady growth may not be such a bad thing after all.

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