IT Managers Rely on AI Hosting in Europe

IT Managers Rely on AI Hosting in Europe

OVHcloud study highlights the importance of data residency and data sovereignty for AI applications.

Companies must also address issues of data residency and data sovereignty when utilising AI models. Depending on the location of the data centre and cloud provider, data processing is subject to various legal provisions such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU or the US Cloud Act in the USA.

When asked about the location where the data for AI models is hosted, almost two thirds of the IT managers surveyed favoured European locations. Among the reasons for hosting in Europe, 55 per cent of respondents cited increased trust in data residency – i.e. knowing where data is stored and the ability to transfer and manage it independently. Other important reasons include legal data protection due to the GDPR (51%), better ‘data ownership’, i.e. control over one’s own data (44%) and less dependence on technology (42%).

Majority use multi-cloud approach

However, a closer look at how respondents host their AI data reveals that many companies choose a multi-cloud approach in practice and host their data with several cloud providers. 26 per cent of respondents stated that they host their data and AI models exclusively with a European cloud provider, while 19 per cent host their data and AI models exclusively with a non-European cloud provider. Between these two poles, there are various hybrid forms and multi-cloud models that are popular with companies and can offer additional flexibility depending on the use case.

The desire of German IT decision-makers to store and manage their AI data independently and securely is reflected in the importance they attach to data sovereignty: 97 per cent of IT managers attach importance to data sovereignty, while data sovereignty plays a subordinate role in the development of their AI applications for only four per cent of respondents.

However, it is striking that awareness of data sovereignty in companies is still unevenly distributed. Almost all of the IT managers surveyed have already experienced challenges in explaining the importance of data sovereignty to their company’s management and the wider economy. As a result, a large majority of IT managers believe that the state has a responsibility to set clear guidelines for the use of AI: 90 per cent of respondents consider it important or very important that regulatory authorities create a framework that defines and protects the sovereignty of AI models.

Majority have been using AI for less than 12 months

Even though most IT managers are already well aware of the topic of AI, many companies have only started to actively use AI applications in their business processes in recent months. While only two per cent of respondents have not used AI at all to date, four out of five respondents (78%) stated that they had only been using AI systems in their operations for less than 12 months. Only 18 per cent introduced AI one or two years ago, and only a very small top one per cent have been using AI systems for three to five years.

For the survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of OVHcloud, 500 IT managers from German companies were questioned.