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January 30, 2023

Importance and management of data residency in BigPicture (Cloud)

System Administration
Agnieszka Sienkiewicz

The word “residency” means living in a particular place. So what about data residency?—Does it mean data lives somewhere, too?

Yes. In fact, data is not a bunch of free electrons that float around in cyberspace as they please; it has to be physically stored somewhere. That “somewhere” is a hardware called a server that companies can buy, run, and maintain on their own. They can also rent a space on a remote server (a cloud) that is looked after by the service provider. Cloud is surely a very convenient and simple hosting solution. But with the simplicity come legal and technical concerns.

In this post, we will talk about data residency which is an important aspect of cloud storage, in particular: 

  • What data residency means in the context of the cloud environment.
  • How you can manage the physical location of your data in BigPicture Enterprise.
  • Important aspects to consider when choosing a region for your data storage.

Data residency in Jira and BigPicture

So what does data residency mean?

Data residency (or “data location” as it is termed in BigPicture) refers to a geographical region of your data. It determines where your BigPicture data is hosted. As a BigPicture Enterprise user, you can choose the region for storing your product data (i.e., client details, business processes, corporate data). BigPicture servers are located in the following AWS zones and regions

  • US East 1 (N. Virginia)
  • US East 2 (Ohio)
  • Europe West 1 (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Europe Central 1 (Frankfurt, Germany)
  • Asia Pacific 1 (Singapore)
  • Asia Pacific 2 (Sydney, Australia)

When you add BigPicture Enterprise to your Jira solution (Cloud), Atlassian sends us a piece of information regarding the data region you have chosen for your Jira instance. This location, by default, becomes a data residency location in BigPicture. However, it is possible to change it to another region or even select a different data storage location for Jira and BigPicture. For example, you can set a location in Jira to the US and Europe in BigPicture.

Find where your product data is hosted

Users with Admin permissions can view and change where the product data for the BigPicture users in their organization is hosted. Please note that data residency management is available only for BigPicture Enterprise users. The data residency server for BigPicture users on a regular subscription plan will be adjusted dynamically based on their location. 

  • Go to the BigPicture app. Click on the wrench icon to open the Administration and Configuration list.
Dropdown menu for the Administration and Configuration settings in BigPicture.

 

  • Select a Region from the list.
  • Go to the Data Location tab to view a current data residency region for your organization.
App Configuration page.

 

  • Use the dropdown menu to choose a different location (if you decide to change it).

When you change the data residency region in BigPicture, there will be a temporary app downtime which can take several minutes. Afterward, you can carry out your work as usual.

Why data residency is important for cloud users

Data residency is an important concept in the context of Cloud hosting mainly due to legal and technical reasons. Especially nowadays, when many countries now require companies that operate within their boundaries to store data on their residents on local servers.

Data residency vs data sovereignty

Data residency requires organizations to take into account all the regional data laws, governmental policies, and even the organizations’ terms and conditions. This factor is especially crucial for public and non-public organizations that operate in a regulated industry. For example, banks and financial institutions, government agencies, and healthcare providers. In other words, most countries have national and local regulations that ensure data sovereignty.

From a technical point of view, cloud hosting makes it possible to pick a server in another region and store data there. But from a practical point of view, organizations (data administrators) are not allowed to freely move or store local data outside the data’s legal jurisdiction—unless explicit consent was given on a per-usage basis. That is because administrators need to comply with the laws that govern data in a country of data origin.

For example, some actions may be acceptable with regard to the use of personal information in Europe. But the same actions in California could be controversial or illegal.

Or, if you had stored data belonging to EU citizens on servers located in the US, you would directly breach the GDPR privacy law. Why? First of all, the GDPR obliges companies to store data on EU citizens on servers located within EU jurisdictions or in countries with a similar scope and rigor in their protection laws. And second, you have allowed the US government to access that protected data.

Three interconnected red pins pinned to a globe.

Data residency vs data latency

The geographical location of data can have a significant impact on how quickly BigPicture users in your company can perform their tasks and other business operations. For instance, data residing 3000 miles away from your business can visibly add latency to your application. 

That is why, if latency is important for your organization, you may want to consider matching data residency region with the region of your users or picking the closest location available. In case your users are distributed across multiple regions, you could try hosting data in a load-balanced way across your users’ regions. It could help you decrease data latency and ensure a more optimal user experience.

Data residency in practice: summary

Changing data residency in BigPicture Cloud is a matter of just a few clicks and a short reload time. That part is easy. What many companies find the most challenging, however, is remaining compliant with the local laws pertaining to the data on their employees and clients. Things get even more complicated when data comes under different jurisdictions leading to a growing web of conflicting laws and regulations.

Therefore, before you make any changes to your data residency settings in BigPicture (and Jira), be sure that your actions do not violate data protection laws applicable to the region of data residency origin.