Heroku comes to Europe, but data protection issues remain

Heroku has opened up a European region to complement its existing U.S. region, in order to cut down on the latency experienced by customers running their apps from the platform for the benefit of European users. However, that doesn’t make Heroku entirely compliant with European data protection law – yet.

In a blog post, Heroku’s Zeke Sikelianos said the platform-as-a-service oufit had been seeing great demand from the non-U.S. world, and its second region was now live as a public beta, following a private beta with customers such as Swedish television network TV4.

“Deploying our app closer to our users in Heroku’s Europe region gave us a 150ms improvement in web performance. Based on this win for our users, we’re moving all of our apps to the Europe region,” the post quoted TV4 CTO Per Åström as saying.

The European region, which runs out of Amazon’s(s amzn) Irish data center, comes with all the same features as the U.S. region. Over 60 add-ons are already available for the region, such as Heroku Postgres and ClearDB, and others are on their way. The company has introduced heroku fork to its command-line interface in order to ease the migration of apps from the U.S. region, by copying relevant data and configuration variables.

Data location

European data protection laws are more stringent than those in the U.S., so the two parties have set up a Safe Harbor program for American companies whose services involve the handling of EU citizens’ personal data. Heroku still isn’t part of that program, so technically it’s still not kosher to run services for EU citizens on the platform, even though it’s now using an EU data center.

“Heroku is not yet a registered participant in the Safe Harbor program,” the post read. “We’ve laid the groundwork for becoming Safe Harbor certified and expect to have it soon.

“The Europe region public beta is designed to let you build high-performance apps for European users. It does not currently address data residency or jurisdiction concerns. You should assume that some portions of your app and its data will be in, or pass through, data centers located in the U.S.”