UPDATED 20:13 EDT / APRIL 08 2024


AWS pledges to help organizations with digital sovereignty and resilience

Max Peterson, vice president of sovereign cloud at Amazon Web Services Inc., recently posted a blog about the resiliency and security of AWS’s global infrastructure and the company’s continued progress on its Digital Sovereignty Pledge. In the blog, Peterson outlined a comprehensive approach to secure data across global networks and ensure that critical applications remain unaffected by external pressures.

As organizations have grown their digital infrastructure and become more reliant on it, the need for digital resilience and sovereignty has increased. Some might consider resiliency and sovereignty two separate issues, but they are inherently linked. The latter is the concept that organizations require control and autonomy of their digital assets, data, and the technology they use without any influence from outside parties. The former refers to an organization’s ability to anticipate, withstand, and recover from adverse conditions, stresses, or attacks on its digital infrastructure.

The two initiatives are linked in the following ways:

  • Interdependence. Resiliency is a prerequisite for digital sovereignty. Organizations need control over one’s digital assets to implement effective resilience strategies.
  • Singular objective. Both initiatives aim to protect and secure the digital ecosystem against external threats and maintain functional sovereignty over data and business operations.
  • Strategic alignment. Implementing digital sovereignty helps organizations build the capabilities required to achieve digital resiliency, ensuring they can recover quickly and continue to operate.

Digital sovereignty and operational resilience have become critical organizational initiatives in today’s digital era. AWS’ blog highlights its steps to equip its customers with the necessary tools to navigate existing challenges. Businesses and governments are under immense pressure from natural disasters, network disruptions, and geopolitical tensions to maintain continuous operations and protect sensitive data.

The Digital Sovereignty Pledge is designed to expand the controls customers have over their data while meeting global regulatory requirements. This pledge encompasses a suite of controls for data residency, access management, encryption, and, notably, resilience. According to Peterson, resilience is crucial, as it allows organizations to sustain operations amid unforeseen disruptions.

AWS has built a reputation for resilience, drawing from a global infrastructure that includes 105 availability zones spread across 33 regions. This design intentionally minimizes the risk of correlated failures and ensures that services can continue without interruption. Each AZ is equipped with redundant systems, independent of other zones, protecting against widespread service outages. Customers can improve reliability and minimize downtime by spreading their applications across different AZs within the same AWS region.

“AWS is the only cloud provider to offer three or more AZs within each region, providing more redundancy and better isolation to contain issues,” said Peterson. “Common points of failure, such as generators and cooling equipment, aren’t shared across AZs and are designed to be supplied by independent power substations.”

The company’s approach extends beyond infrastructure. AWS instills resilience at the service design level, ensuring that even in the event of a dependency failure, systems like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Simple Storage Service and virtual private clouds operate as reliably as their physical counterparts. This “static stability” philosophy means AWS services are designed to weather storms without immediate intervention or reconfiguration.

Peterson shared examples of how AWS customers leverage the cloud’s resilience and sovereignty capabilities to ensure continuity and data protection. The Swiss public transport organization BERNMOBIL improved its ability to protect data against ransomware attacks by using AWS. Another customer, educational institution Pearson, relies on AWS Resilience Hub, a service which helps assess an application’s ability to meet its recovery objectives and test the resilience.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government securely transferred more than 10 petabytes of data to the cloud amid the crisis. This included migrating data for 42 government authorities, 24 universities, a remote learning school for displaced children, and numerous private sector companies. As a result, AWS played an important role in preserving essential government services.

In my conversations with information technology leaders, digital resilience was hardly considered until the war started. Now, it’s top of mind for almost every one of them. The war underscored the importance of knowing where data is, that the business has control of it, and that it’s always available.

AWS also caters to on-premises and remote use case customers with solutions such as AWS Local Zones, AWS Dedicated Local Zones and AWS Outposts. These are designed to meet the stringent requirements of highly regulated industries. For instance, Nasdaq used AWS Outposts to improve its operational systems, which helped it respond to the demands of capital markets.

AWS offers various resilience services to help customers recover quickly from disruptions. These services include AWS Backup, AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery and Amazon Route53 Application Recovery Controller. For example, Thomson Reuters, a leading media company, enhanced its data protection and application recovery processes by using the continuous replication feature in AWS DRS.

Lastly, AWS works with partners and professional services teams to help customers achieve their resilience objectives. AWS Resilience Competency Partners are experts in improving the availability and resilience of cloud-based workloads. AWS Professional Services conducts assessments across eight essential domains — change management, disaster recovery, durability, observability, operations, redundancy, scalability and testing — to identify gaps and areas companies need to improve.

“We remain committed to enhancing our range of sovereign and resilient options, allowing customers to sustain operations through disruption or disconnection,” Peterson concluded. “AWS will continue to innovate based on customer needs to help you build and run resilient applications in the cloud to keep up with the changing world.”

Digital sovereignty and resiliency are interconnected components of a broader strategy to ensure digital infrastructure’s security, ability to function, and independence in a world where technology plays a vital role in every aspect of work, life and learning. Integrating resiliency and sovereignty becomes critical for organizations and governments looking to protect their digital future as digital threats evolve. The AWS pledge can take something complex and confusing and make it manageable.

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