Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe

Last week the European Commission published Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe, its strategy for speeding up and increasing the use of cloud computing across the economy. From the related press release:
"'Cloud computing' refers to the storage of data (such as text files, pictures and video) and software on remote computers, which users access over the internet on the device of their choice. This is faster, cheaper, more flexible and potentially more secure than on-site IT solutions. Many popular services such as Facebook, Spotify and web-based email use cloud computing technologies but the real economic benefits come through widespread use of cloud solutions by businesses and the public sector."
Key actions of the strategy include:
  • Cutting through the jungle of technical standards so that cloud users get interoperability, data portability and reversibility; necessary standards should be identified by 2013;
  • Support for EU-wide certification schemes for trustworthy cloud providers;
  • Development of model 'safe and fair' contract terms for cloud computing contracts including Service Level Agreements;
  • A European Cloud Partnership with Member States and industry to harness the public sector's buying power (20% of all IT spending) to shape the European cloud market, boost the chances for European cloud providers to grow to achieve a competitive scale, and deliver cheaper and better eGovernment.
Clearly the widespread availability of broadband infrastructure is a prerequisite if the strategy is to be a success:
"The cloud could be especially important for small businesses in struggling economies or remote and rural regions to tap into markets in more buoyant regions. For example using broadband infrastructures to overcome the "tyranny of distance", the whole range from high tech startups to small traders or artisans can leverage the cloud to tap into remote markets. This opens up new economic development opportunities to any region that has ideas, talent and a high speed broadband infrastructure...Other initiatives, such as on broadband access, roaming or open data also contribute to an environment conducive to faster cloud adoption, particularly for consumers and SMEs."
The Commission will report on progress by the end of 2013 and present further policy and legislative proposals initiatives as needed. Commentary from Public Service Europe (and a nice infographic) here.

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