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Dreamforce 2012: Salesforce.com UK Data Centre In Doubt For 2012

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Salesforce.com tells TechWeekEurope no date has been set and it is unsure whether the data centre will materialise this year

Salesforce.com may not live up to its promise to have a UK data centre up and running in 2012, although it is still committed to set up a facility, TechWeekEurope has learned.

In 2010, Salesforce.com announced plans for a UK data centre to cater to the demands of those wanting data to remain in the country, or in Europe at the least. Governments have been particularly tetchy about letting information be stored outside of their own region, no matter how secure cloud providers’ infrastructure is.

Earlier this year, during the Cloudforce event in London, the company again reiterated its plans to have the centre online by the end of 2012.

Nothing nailed down

But at Dreamforce 2012 this week, there is much doubt about whether that data centre will appear this year. Steve Garnett, Salesforce.com chairman in EMEA, told TechWeekEurope he did not know whether the complex would be ready before the end of the year, as plans were still being finalised. That would suggest groundwork on the centre has not started.

“The dates haven’t been nailed down yet,” Garnett said. “Outside of government, it is not a big issue.

“It’s only some government IL3 [Impact Level Three] data and above, which is a small amount of UK government data. We’ve been talking with Francis Maude and the Cabinet Office.

“But the vast majority of commercial customers look at our security compared to their security and say it is far better than theirs.”

Yet some non-government Salesforce.com customers are keen to get a data centre on UK turf as soon as possible. Phil Shoesmith, head of IT for the Alzheimer’s Society, told Computer Weekly yesterday that the charity would like to have a facility in the UK for “risk mitigation” purposes.

Shoesmith said he had found it difficult to get all users’ data onto one Salesforce platform due to servers being based in the US, and it came up against government barriers to carrying out the project.

He told TechWeekEurope today that he was not slamming Salesforce.com as was reported, but was simply looking to give them a gentle nudge about living up to their commitment to set up a UK centre.

“We committed to Salesforce without the EU data centre. [My comment] was just a cough, cough Salesforce, you said you were going to do it, but you haven’t yet,” he said.

Salesforce.com is on the G-Cloud framework, and knows there is demand from the Cabinet Office to have data centres based in the UK.

Yet in 2011, company co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff slammed the UK government for being slow on taking up cloud, claiming the G-Cloud was “way behind” what the US was doing.

Benioff said the UK government was “hiding behind” the private cloud, as it feared going public, despite its manifold benefits. He even criticised the UK’s leadership for building too many data centres.

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