Friday, October 9, 2015

How will today's Safe Harbor ruling impact users of multi-tenant application analytics services?

Earlier today, the Safe Harbor system was just overturned (see Europe-U.S. data transfer deal used by thousands of firms is ruled invalid). 
The legal, operational, and risk implications are huge for companies that have, up until today, relied on this legal system (either directly or through third parties that relied on Safe Harbor) to meet EU's privacy obligations. 
What are the implications for application analytics solutions (homegrown or commercially offered)? It's not clear at this moment in time, but one thing is for sure - it is a lot harder to turn off an application, re-architect a multi-tier system, or force an upgrade than it is to simply sign a revised privacy agreement. 
Multi-national companies that continue to transfer and process personal data from European citizens without implementing an alternative contractual solution or receiving the authorization from a data protection authority are at risk for legal action, monetary fines, or a prohibition on data transfers from the EU to US. 
If this transfer of data is embedded inside an application/system's architecture - then a wholesale development/re-architecture plan may be required. Of course, re-architecting systems to keep data local within a country or region, may simply be impossible (efficiency, cost effective, ...) UNLESS the system is, itself, built to provide that kind of flexibility already.  
Happily, PreEmptive Analytics is. 
  • PreEmptive Analytics endpoints (in addition to on-prem of course) can live inside any Microsoft Azure VM. Clients with very specific requirements as to where their actual VM’s are being hosted would always be able to meet those requirements with us. …and what about when a client gets even more specific (country borders for example) or when they want to support multiple jurisdictions with one app? (this leads to the second point…)
  • PreEmptive Analytics instrumentation supports runtime/dynamic selection of target endpoints. While this would take a little bit of custom code on the developer’s part – our instrumentation would allow an application – at runtime – to determine where it should send it’s telemetry (perhaps a service that is called at startup that has a lookup table – if the app is running in Germany – send it to …, if it’s in China, send it to …, if it’s in the US…). This would allow an app developer with an international user base to support conflicting privacy and governance obligations with one application.
It may turn out that keeping German application analytics data in Germany may be as important to US companies now as it is to German companies. One thing's for sure - the cadence and road map for application analytics cannot be tied to the cadence and road map of any one application - the two have to live side-by-side - but independently.

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