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InCountry cashes in on growing demand for data residency services in Middle East

Samer Kamal, Vice-President of Product at InCountry
(Image credit: InCountry)

To cash in on the growing demand to address data sovereignty issues in the Middle East, San Francisco-based tech startup – InCountry – has opened its Middle East headquarters at Abu Dhabi’s Hub71.

Samer Kamal, Vice-President of Product at InCountry, told TechRadar Middle East that data protection and data privacy have been hot topics globally for enterprises as well as consumers.

The introduction of GDPR in 2018 has had a significant impact on personal data protection and the demand for privacy expertise exploded after that.

The rise of data breaches has forced many cloud providers to have data centres in each country to comply with data residency laws. 

More than 80 countries have now adopted comprehensive data protection laws.

 “Enterprises are expanding and going to more than one country and we help them comply with data residency regulations, especially in emerging countries. We have a data residency-as-a-service platform that securely stores and processes data in the country of origin,” he said.

Moreover, he said that enterprises don’t need to move the complete stack or rebuild the entire stack when moving to another country.

“Once it is set up in one country, it works around the world,” he said.

InCountry is backed by Caffeinated Capital, Felicis Ventures, Arbor Ventures, Ridge Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, Charles River Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Parade Ventures, Mubadala Ventures and MState.

The startup has a presence in more than 70 countries and Kamal said that they plan to have a presence in about 100 countries by the end of the year.

Understanding local requirements

The advantage of InCountry, Kamal said is that they not only provide technical solutions but also have people on the ground in legal and in the regulatory framework in all these countries to understand exactly what the local requirements are.

“Many local companies do not know what the local data residency laws are and we clearly know what is going to come. So, enterprises can focus on global expansion without hiring compliance staff or rebuilding their entire solutions in multiple countries,” he said.

InCountry works with hyperscale cloud providers such as IBM, AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure in the Gulf countries and with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) in Saudi Arabia.

In countries which do not have hyperscale providers, Kamal said that they work co-location service providers.

“We will be announcing a partnership with a local vendor that has partnerships with governments and healthcare ministry in Abu Dhabi and where we will allow customers to work with them. If a customer prefers to work with some other cloud providers, it is not an issue for us and we can work any cloud providers,” he said.

Salesforce operates in only six data centres around the world but in partnership with InCountry, Kamal said that they now have a presence in 70 countries.

Strategic growth area

InCountry’s customers are in the highly regulated industries such as public sector, government entities, healthcare, banking and finance. 

“We see the Middle East as a very strategic area right now. We are barely one-year-old but we are seeing tremendous growth,” Kamal said.

When asked who is to be blamed if a breach happens, he said that it is a “shared responsibility”.

“We let our customers know where our responsibility lies and where the cloud provider’s responsibility also come in and, at the same time, the customer is also responsible for a lot of things,” he said.

He added that InCountry supports regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Service Organisation Control 2 (SOC 2) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI).