As the Brexit deadline nears, the only thing that has remained certain throughout the withdrawal process is the uncertainty of Brexit’s impact.
“There is some inconsistency in the data that has been exchanged,” said Lilia Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify, an HR software and freelance platform. “As a U.K.-based company that operates globally and has many clients in the EU, we would expect more clarity.”
A no-deal Brexit could have significant repercussions on businesses in the United Kingdom (U.K.) regarding data flow and protection. Trade and
service industries between the U.K. and European Union (EU) largely depend on the free and unencumbered exchange of data. In fact, between 2005 and 2015, the volume of data entering and leaving the U.K. increased 28 times, and three-quarters of this data was exchanged with EU countries. However, in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit, this sort of open environment for data exchange will likely no longer be possible. In the result of a no-deal, the U.K. will officially be considered a “third country” to the EU, and thus no longer part of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Consequently, this will result in data from EU countries no longer being able to flow freely into the U.K. and to U.K. businesses without a contract in place between them that meets EU-approved terms. This can be especially detrimental to a U.K. company that has a data centre located in the EU.
“A no-deal Brexit is not on the cards at the moment because the U.K. has again extended the leaving day until Jan. 31, 2020, in order to come to a deal that would include adequacy in its pages,” said Ray Walsh, digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy.com. “However, if a no-deal Brexit eventually occurs at that point [when] there would be no deal in place, U.K. firms would be in limbo.”
Many companies are either unaware or unprepared if a no-deal Brexit were to occur, especially small and medium-sized businesses. In such a climate, U.K. businesses that manage or store large volumes of data in the EU, such as those in the financial or tech industries, may look to neighboring countries like Ireland as a new base for their EU operations or they may look to U.K.-based cloud data centres. In moving their operations, businesses will need to securely transfer large volumes of data.
To successfully and smoothly move operations and migrate data easily and securely, a business should follow a process. When changing data centres and migrating large amounts of internal data, it is essential for a company to have good planning and preparation beforehand, ensure it is transparent with key internal stakeholders throughout the process and get help from third-party migration tools. Outlined below are best practices for organisations looking to move data centres from one country to another and needing to securely migrate their data in the process.
Another important early step in deciding whether to move one’s data is understanding and determining how much data a company must manage for the move. Large amounts of data can take a long time to migrate. Identify what programs and data are imperative to migrate and which programs may be phased out in the migration process. Email, public folders, archives, calendars and other workloads are some programs that are commonly transferred over.
During the actual migration process, a business should anticipate some sort of downtime and relay this to employees. However, internal delay and disruption can be minimized with preparation and efficient cutover delivery. The length of a downtime experienced during a data migration project is often related to the size of the business, the number of workloads needing to be moved and the type of migration.
While navigating the uncertainty of Brexit is difficult, it is imperative for U.K. companies that house data within the EU to determine whether transferring their data to a U.K.-based cloud provider or a data centre outside the EU is the best option. Much is still being figured out as this situation develops. Taking a proactive approach will help ensure your business remains on stable ground.