Cloud giant Salesforce.com has finally revealed plans to open a data centre in the UK, based in Slough, to serve its customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The plans were revealed at the company's 'Customer Tour' event in London this week, where it said it had signed an agreement with NTT Europe, a subsidiary of NTT Communications, to open the data centre by 2014.
Salesforce confirmed that the full functionality of the Salesforce platform would be available out of the UK data centre.
Salesforce revealed its intention to open a European data centre years ago, but had failed to deliver on the plans until now. The news will be welcomed by customers such as Alzheimer's Society UK (ASUK), which last year had strong complaints about the difficulties in getting assurances for storing data in the US.
Head of IT at ASUK, Phil Shoesmith, told Computerworld UK at the time: "UK and EU data protection is a big issue, particularly in government departments there was a lot of concern about using US based cloud solutions for client data."
"There is a slight frustration, because it was announced two or three years ago that there would be an EU datacentre and it's still not here. We would like to see one for risk mitigation."
Electronics company Philips has also explicitly requested a European data centre from Salesforce, citing compliance reasons.
Marc Benioff, Chariman and CEO of Salesforce, said that Europe is now the company's fastest growing region, which delivered constant currency revenue growth of 38 percent in 2013.
Salesforce's EMEA chairman, Steve Garnett, said during a press and analyst Q&A at the event that the drive to open the data centre was largely driven by government compliance restrictions and will help it win more public sector business, which he believes to be 50 percent of the UK IT market.
Garnett said that this government drive was facilitated by the highly publicised G-Cloud, the public sector's framework for procuring cloud products, on which Salesforce is now an approved seller.
Some companies are also concerned about the US Patriot Act, which allows the federal government to request data from cloud providers that have their data centres based on US soil.
Stephen Kelly, chief operating officer for government, welcomed the announcement.
"This significant development further endorses the UK as one of the world's greatest technology centres," said Kelly.
"The UK is in a strong position to support fast growing international companies such as Salesforce.com in delivering innovative social mobile and cloud services to customers here and globally."