MSPAlliance’s Charles Weaver argues that the biggest fallout from Brexit could be the future viability of GDPR
Now that Brexit is a reality, it’s time to begin planning on what the future may hold for cloud and other IT service provider companies.
Beyond the political and economic issues, the average cloud provider may be wondering what impact does Brexit have on my business, if any at all.
Regardless of your political views, Brexit is likely to have some impact on your IT services organisation. I have provided a few of the more likely scenarios where Brexit could have a significant impact on managed IT service providers (MSPs), both those in Europe and elsewhere.
What Next for European MSPs?
Brexit has created an unusual environment within the European Union. The UK’s impending departure from the EU has caused several other EU member states to consider leaving as well. While the short-term panic has largely subsided, there remains uncertainty related to the UK’s future interaction with Europe. In particular, how will managed IT service providers operate? Within UK or European law? What about those MSPs with service delivery operations both in the UK and mainland Europe?
The ability to plan seems to be the greatest challenge for MSPs in the near term. Development plans, where to expand data centres, service delivery locations, and other factors will need to be resolved within the larger context of which laws will apply. While MSPs with international clientele have always had to deal with this, it is possible that UK MSPs doing business on the continent may need to be more cautious about their expansion plans than in previous years.
For non-European MSPs with no operations within Europe, I don’t see Brexit having any real lasting negative impact. Although, future plans could be put on hold until the various data privacy and IT security laws have settled. Until then, future growth and expansion into Europe and the UK could be slow.
It is entirely possible, as well as probable, that demand for managed services and cloud computing will continue to rise in Europe, despite or as a result of Brexit. General uncertainty amongst customers has been known to cause demand for managed services in the past. As customers seek more knowledge on how to grow within the shadow of Brexit, managed services opportunities (as well as cloud computing) should rise.
In my opinion, the biggest fallout from Brexit is the future viability of the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]. Recently, I wrote about the GDPR, a framework of laws designed to regulate and ostensibly make data protection and cloud computing safer within the EU.
If the EU falls, so does GDPR. This, in my estimation, provides the greatest threat to MSPs doing business within Europe as the ability to predict and plan for the future is cast into doubt if various EU member states (such as the UK) decide to leave.
For example, if you were a MSP in London and had been planning on changing your service delivery model to adapt to the GDPR, everything has changed since the Brexit vote. UK-based MSPs with clients only in the UK should probably abandon GDPR adoption planning and stick with their local laws instead.
For all other European MSPs, a giant pause button has just been pressed and only time will tell what happens.
Ultimately, GDPR is the biggest impact for MSPs globally. If GDPR never fully becomes adopted then it’s importance to the rest of the world as a guide for comprehensive (not necessarily positive) data management legislation could end up as a small footnote in history.
The reality for Europe is that public cloud is still dominated by US corporations. Until Europeans become accepting of that fact, private cloud is the only viable alternative to protect European data. And, with the Brexit vote, it is much more likely that each country in Europe will have to sort out cloud computing on its own.
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