Europe Boosts its Strategy on Cloud Computing

Having reaffirmed in June the need for structural reform of the digital economy, the EU executive last week presented its proposals to “Unlock the potential of cloud computing in Europe”. This is to encourage more governments and companies from all sectors to adopt solutions dedicated to cloud computing.

Europe wants coordinated action in the field of cloud computing. The Commission has defined that a strategy that will allow it to take advantage of the economic benefits of this model. The strategy once implemented can boost the European Union’s gross domestic product by €160 billion ($205.94 billion) annually by 2020 and generate 2.5 million new jobs.

“Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy. Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains,” said vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.

“We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on.”

According to the EU executive, the use of cloud computing is more secure and more flexible than fixed systems backup, and also less expensive. Companies that use cloud services would achieve between 10% and 20% savings on their costs of computer storage. But many users are still reluctant to face complex and technical difficulties and data security, especially when it comes to data confidentiality.

The Commission’s strategy must address three weaknesses of cloud in Europe: the digital single market fragmentation (a regulatory framework by Member State), contractual uncertainties on data and fragmentation of cloud standard. The Commission has therefore announced four measures intended to boost the productivity of the cloud computing.

  • To sort through the jungle of technical standards to ensure interoperability, data portability and reversibility for users of cloud services. Necessary standards should be established by 2013;
  • Support certification schemes across the EU for cloud service reliability;
  • Develop standard safe and fair contract terms for cloud computing, including agreements on service levels;
  • Create a European partnership for cloud computing with Member States and businesses in order to have the purchasing power of the public sector (20% of total spending), shape the European cloud computing market, improve growth prospects of cloud services and deliver cheaper and better eGovernment services.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has welcomed the decision made by European Commission. The association, which works to promote policies and procedures to support innovation in IT, in fact, consider the new guidelines as a step towards for a more balanced approach to the cloud, but encourages a more global view, beyond the boundaries of single market.

To date, the cloud computing market in Europe is largely national. The result is a mosaic of cloud networks incompatible with each other that threatens to further hinder the widespread adoption of cloud computing services. Data from a recent survey of BSA detect that less than a quarter (24%) of EU citizens access to cloud services, compared to 34% globally, and the vast majority of PC users are not familiar with European cloud computing.

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