Google is using SAP as a tool to get GDPR trust

Google is expanding its presence in enterprises beyond the classic advertising business. Cloud offerings are being pushed and new partnerships (e.g. with Walmart) are moving into focus.

Google is trying to build trust among the enterprise community by using its cloud offering and moving beyond advertising and search. It does so against the backdrop of the permanent distrust by the EU Commission and EU Parliament with regard to data privacy (and ranking misuse). On the other hand, Google recently opened a data center in Germany, allowing enterprise customers to select the location of their data when using Google's cloud offerings for enterprise purposes. This is an absolute necessity given the fact that the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will take effect in May 2018. It should be noted that the GDPR rules were first published back in 2016 and will become binding in May 2018. The rules include the “right to be forgotten” for any consumer. Customer data must not be used without explicit permission.

This is where SAP comes into play. SAP and Google collaborate in the cloud. Google needs to ensure extra data security apart from data partitioning and encryption. Google needs to make an extra effort to increase the level of trust in data being secure in the Google cloud. This was again jointly demonstrated at SAP’s TechED in November 2017 in Barcelona. A SAP solution called Data Custodian makes data access traceable. Data security is permanently monitored in an automatic way. Unusual access to data triggers an alarm, e.g., access by a Google operator. This access requires a reaction by the data security officer of the customer. If it turns out that the access by Google was due to a support request – e.g., a performance issue and an inquiry by a customer – the alarm message can be closed. In a nutshell: the SAP Data Custodian solution monitors when, by whom and why data has been accessed. This solution has no doubt been driven by the need for Google (and other cloud vendors) to ensure that enough efforts have been made to guarantee privacy and data security in cloud deployments of enterprise applications.

Bottom line: For SAP, the usage of the Google cloud is “just another cloud infrastructure provider” supporting SAP's promise to make the SAP S/4HANA solutions available on a multitude of different cloud infrastructures. For Google this is a very good opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to be GDPR-compliant and increase trust among enterprise and private customers… and the EU Commission.