Sovereign Cloud

Sovereign Cloud Explained

As enterprises increasingly migrate to the cloud, ensuring that data remains secure, private, and within legal jurisdictional boundaries is paramount. Sovereign cloud solutions have emerged as a pivotal technological innovation designed to address these complex requirements.

Sovereign cloud solutions ensure that data is stored, processed, and managed within a country’s borders in accordance with its specific legal and regulatory frameworks.

This blog post quickly describes a sovereign cloud and then examines how the top four cloud providers deliver sovereign cloud capabilities to their customers.

What is a Sovereign Cloud?

“Sovereign Cloud” describes a cloud computing environment designed to comply with a particular country’s specific legal, regulatory, and policy requirements. This type of cloud is often established to ensure that data is stored and processed within the country’s borders, adhering to its sovereignty laws concerning data privacy, security, and governance.

Sovereign clouds are critical for government agencies, regulated industries, or any organization that handles sensitive information that must be protected according to national regulations.

Key attributes of a sovereign cloud include:

  • Data Residency and Localization: Sovereign clouds ensure data is physically stored within the country, complying with laws that mandate data residency. This is crucial in regions where regulations restrict personal or sensitive data transfer outside national borders.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Sovereign clouds are tailored to meet specific national or regional regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or other privacy laws that dictate how data should be managed and protected.
  • Enhanced Data Security: By focusing on local data handling and processing, sovereign clouds often employ enhanced security measures that align with national security policies. This can include physical security of data centers, cybersecurity protocols, and controlled access measures.
  • Government and Critical Sectors: Sovereign clouds are particularly relevant for government data and industries deemed critical to national interests (e.g., healthcare, finance, energy). These sectors often have stringent security, data protection, and operational continuity requirements.
  • Control and Governance: Organizations using sovereign clouds have greater control over their data regarding who accesses it and how it is processed. This is essential for maintaining compliance with governmental policies and audits.
  • Trust and Sovereignty: Sovereign clouds can help maintain public trust, as citizens and businesses know that their data is stored and processed in compliance with local laws and is not subject to foreign jurisdiction or control.
  • Economic and Strategic Benefits: By fostering local cloud services, countries can promote domestic technological development, enhance the local I.T. sector, and reduce dependency on foreign cloud service providers.


The leading cloud solution providers have developed sovereign cloud solutions to meet various countries’ stringent regulatory and compliance needs. These offerings ensure data sovereignty, security, and compliance with local laws.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty is a set of capabilities that allow Microsoft Azure customers to build sovereign cloud solutions atop Microsoft Azure infrastructure. The solution ensures that government entities can use cloud services while maintaining complete control over their data. It remains within its geographic or jurisdictional boundaries and adheres to specific governmental standards and policies.

In addition to the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, Microsoft offers a government-specific cloud solution. Azure for U.S. Government is explicitly designed for U.S. government agencies and their partners. It is physically isolated from Microsoft’s standard cloud and is managed by screened U.S. personnel.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon has a set of cloud solutions designed to deliver sovereign cloud capabilities to its customers:

  • AWS European Sovereign Cloud: AWS announced plans to launch an independent cloud region in Europe designed to help public sector organizations and customers in highly regulated industries meet sovereignty requirements. AWS will keep this separate from its existing AWS regions.
  • AWS GovCloud (U.S.): AWS provides cloud regions allowing U.S. government agencies, contractors, and customers to move sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing specific regulatory and compliance requirements.
  • AWS Dedicated Local Zones: AWS infrastructure fully managed by AWS, built for exclusive use by a customer or community, and placed in a customer-specified location or data center to help comply with regulatory requirements.

Google Cloud (GCP)

Rather than delivering a dedicated sovereign cloud option, Google provides a cascading set of controls that allow its customers to tailor their Google Cloud experience to deliver the right mix of capabilities, essentially allowing enterprises to create their own sovereign clouds from GCP’s array of offerings:

  • Regional Controls: This allows users to apply security controls to a folder in support of compliance requirements. The controls can be applied to meet requirements such as data residency, data sovereignty, and personnel data access.
  • Sovereign Controls allow organizations to maintain data residency, operational oversight, and encryption management within specific geographic regions. These controls ensure compliance with local data regulations and offer increased security for sensitive information.
  • Sovereign Controls by Partners: Google offers trusted partners the ability to provide independent oversight and safeguards over platform controls. Trusted local partners operate the residency, transparency, local service and support, and external key management controls.
  • Google Distributed Cloud: For organizations with the highest security needs, Google Distributed Cloud offers an air-gapped solution for classified, restricted, and top-secret data. Google Distributed Cloud is designed for government and regulated industries.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)

Oracle offers perhaps the richest set of sovereign cloud solutions on the market, offering the same cloud services, APIs, and SLAs at the same price as its non-sovereign cloud solutions.

Here’s a quick overview of what OCI offers:

  • E.U. Sovereign Cloud: Physically separated cloud regions located and operated entirely within the European Union and aligned with E.U. standards of practice.
  • Government Cloud: Oracle Cloud operates government cloud regions isolated from commercial customers. Designed for public sector agencies in the United States, U.K., and Australia, the regions meet data sovereignty requirements for the public sector while offering the same set of services, support, and billing as OCI’s public cloud.
  • Dedicated Regions: An independent, complete cloud region in a customer-defined data center, with data and control planes on-premises to meet data residency and low-latency requirements.
  • Isolated Region: Secure, air-gapped regions designed to meet the highest demands of global customers’ mission-critical classified workloads.
  • Oracle Alloy: Oracle Alloy enables partners to become in-country cloud providers and offer a robust cloud ecosystem to their local customers while fulfilling digital sovereignty and regulatory compliance requirements.


Sovereign cloud solutions represent a crucial capability for organizations that want to deploy cloud-based solutions that adhere to stringent national data security, privacy, and residency laws. By ensuring that data remains within a country’s borders and complies with its legal frameworks, sovereign clouds offer enhanced security, help maintain public trust, and support local economic growth.

As cloud computing continues to evolve, the offerings from major providers like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Oracle demonstrate a commitment to meeting these complex regulatory demands. Organizations considering sovereign clouds must weigh their options carefully, considering the technical capabilities and the broader impact on their operations and strategic goals.

Moving forward, the adoption of sovereign cloud solutions is likely to become a staple for industries facing high regulatory scrutiny, making it an indispensable part of the global IT landscape.

Disclosure: The author is an industry analyst, and NAND Research an industry analyst firm, that engages in, or has engaged in, research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, which may include those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.