A Cloud, made in Turkey?

Author: James Kinsella
18 October 2016 11:54:58

Ambition, pride and a focus on data sovereignty are making it happen


ISTANBUL. When an American cloud service giant recently sent a group of its employees here on business, it hired body guards to protect them – even though those tech execs are far more likely to be a victim of violence roaming a major US city than in Istanbul (7 times more likely, actually)Picture courtesy of 'Actual-lite news', featured on 'Turkey to appoint new ambassadors to Russia, France, Israel' by Hatice Kesgin, accessible at 'http://www.actualite-news.com/en/international/africa/2029-turkey-to-appoint-new-ambassadors-to-russia-france-israel'

If the American cloud kings were so frightened that they would travel only under security escort, why did they journey to Istanbul in the first place? Opportunity, of course.

Turkey is the third largest European nation, behind Russia and Germany.  And yet its tech industry is tiny by almost any measure. And its cloud services business relies almost entirely on imports, mostly from the US.

That’s about to change.

Spend time in Istanbul – you can leave your body guard behind – and you get the distinct feeling that the place is under construction, with new buildings bursting forth seemingly everywhere. The World Bank alone is funding 14 projects worth more than $4.2 billion in more than 300 locations in Turkey.

And yet, high speed internet and cloud service adoption lag far behind the EU, including the Union’s back-of-the-pack Bulgaria. That has to hurt.

So what is Turkey doing about it? Getting even.

To date, cloud services for Turkey’s businesses mostly came with US brand names plastered on them – Google, Dropbox, Amazon. For the most part, these services – and the customer data they generate – sit on servers back in the USA.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is making it mandatory that companies doing business in the EU know where their data resides. Turkey is taking that data protection mandate and adding its own version of data sovereignty. Turkish data should reside in Turkey, is the strong sentiment here.

What does that mean for US cloud services? Just last week, Dropbox, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Google Drive were declared “inappropriate” for Turkish data. The impetus was reportedly a breach of government data that had been kept on a Dropbox server.

The implication, however, is far more important: Turkey is envisioning its own cloud services. And the country is not alone. Around the world, domestic tech industries are waking up to the opportunity their own national cloud service markets present.

The future of the cloud is not its past – nations are envisioning many clouds, and they can be built even faster than skylines. It’s a new day for Turkey; it’s a new era for the cloud.



James Kinsella is the founder of Zettabox, a European-based cloud-sharing platform, launched to address data protection and sovereignty issues for enterprises faced with the responsibility to comply with new EU regulations. A long-time tech entrepreneur, James is a proud citizen of both the US and Great Britain. Reach him on Twitter @jimkzettabox or at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jameskinsella.