Where Does Europe Stand On Cloud Computing?

Where Does Europe Stand On Cloud Computing?

When we talk of cloud computing, we usually refer to the American market. Although I have tried to vary the spread by writing about cloud computing in the Indian (See: Is India The Next Cloud Computing Superpower?) and Chinese contexts (See: The Chinese Dragon And Cloud Computing ), the balance has been heavily tilted towards the United States. Today, I take a look at another cloud computing market that may have matched, or even surpassed in terms of maturity, the US. Today, I look at Europe.

As you know, Europe is not a single state with a single government and a single set of rules. However, the existence of the European Union (EU) does provide a large degree of homogeneity in how technical innovations like cloud computing are treated. While Europe, as a whole, has largely been welcoming of cloud computing, even somewhat-independent entities like the UK have not been much different.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, the idea of a European Cloud Strategy was suggested. Last week, EU Commissioner for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes sought to push this agenda while speaking at the inauguration of a Microsoft cloud computing center, saying that cloud computing heralded the dawn of a computing era of “unprecedented flexibility and economies of scale”.

Kroes proposed steps to address one of the major drawbacks holding back universal adoption of cloud computing – the fear of being locked in to an extended agreement with a service provider. I had explored this issue in an earlier article (See: Cloud Computing Standards: How Important Are They?).

Interoperability is an issue I take very seriously,” she said. “To offer a true utility in a truly competitive digital single market, users must be able to change their cloud provider as fast and easily as changing one’s internet or mobile phone provider has become in many places.”  Kroes was emphatic that an all-round effort was required of all the EU member-states. “This has got to be a European strategy,” she said, “because without full coordination, we will fall short of our potential.” In fact, she went further by suggesting a global strategy, “The holy grail is actually finding global solutions, working through bodies like the G20 and others.

While embracing the cloud, Europe has been wary of security issues. Consequently, as per a report published by the EU’s European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), government agencies in the EU bloc should only deploy cloud services for applications that do not process sensitive data. Current data handling legislation in some EU states prevent certain data types from being taken out of their respective national borders. (See: Computing Without Borders – What Works, What Doesn’t) .

Now, let’s look at the UK, which in spite of being a EU member-state, retains its separate identity as is evident from its non-adoption from the Euro. However, this difference in opinion does not extend to cloud computing, to which it has been more than welcome. I had written two articles on how cloud computing can revolutionize the education and real estate sectors, and in both cases, there has been governmental or industrial support in the UK.  See: Real Estate and Cloud Computing and How Can Cloud Computing Help In Education?

As is evident, cloud computing has found wide acceptance even beyond the United States, both in the developed nations of Europe and the developing countries in Asia.

The day is not far when it will become the dominant IT infrastructure model in the world.

By Sourya Biswas

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