EC Opens Cloud Computing Public Consultation

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The European Commission wants to gather views on how to exploit cloud computing in business

The European Commission is seeking to gather views on the cloud to help it build its own cloud computing strategy.

Interested parties are invited to contribute to the EC’s online public consultation, and have until 31 August 2011 to provide their input.

The EU executive believes that cloud computing could generate 35 billion euros (£30 billion) in revenue in Europe by 2014. It also feels that the right regulations could help business and governments make considerable savings on their costs by using the technology.

Cost Savings

The UK government is already a cloud user. Last month it extended its relationship with cloud collaboration and content management provider Huddle. This follows the release of the government’s ICT strategy in March, in which it called for the use of more open source software, as well as highlighting the need to move to cloud computing.

And the potential of the cloud to achieve cost savings has also been recognised over on the other side of the Atlantic.

Last week Informatica’s Juan Carlos Soto, who is also advising the Obama administration on the move to the Cloud, told eWEEK Europe UK that the US government could potentially save between $6 and $7 billion (£3.7bn to £4.2bn ) by moving to the Cloud.

Neelie Kroes

“I am excited about the potential benefits of cloud computing to cut costs, improve services and open up new business opportunities,” Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said in a statement.

“We need a well-defined cloud computing strategy to ensure that we make the best use of this potential,” she added. “The input we are requesting from all interested parties is important to get it right.”

New Growth Area?

The EC feels that cloud computing has the potential to develop into a major new service industry, presenting great opportunities for European telecoms and technology companies. To this end it is inviting all interested parties, in particular cloud developers and cloud users, to explain their experience, needs, expectations and insights into the use and provision of cloud computing.

Specifically the EC survey is looking for feedback on the following issues:

  • Data protection and liability questions, in particular in cross-border situations;
  • Other legal and technical barriers that can slow down the development of cloud computing in Europe;
  • Standardisation and interoperability solutions;
  • Uptake of cloud services, in particular by SMEs;
  • Ways to promote research and innovation in cloud computing.

The results of the consultation will feed into a European cloud computing strategy that the Commission will present in 2012.

There is little doubt that Kroes is convinced of the cloud. In a blog posting she said that it is critical to Europe’s growth.

“Getting the cloud right will mean the Internet can continue to be a generator of innovation, growth and freedom. If we get it wrong our infrastructure will fail to meet our appetite for access to data and our fragile digital economy could be knocked about badly,” she wrote. “To help get it right I’ve started work on a European Cloud Computing Strategy. I want to make Europe not just ‘cloud-friendly’ but ‘cloud-active’.”

Enterprise Cloud

The cloud has seen dramatic uptake within small to medium businesses, although a recent report from VMware warned that British SMBs were lagging in cloud adoption compared to their European rivals. This slow uptake could be down to the slow Internet in the UK, which according to  the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) is hindering cloud uptake in this country.

Yet concerns about the cloud remain, especially after the high profile failure of Amazon’s cloud service, which caused thousands of websites – including Foursquare, Reddit, Quora and Hootsuite – to be knocked offline. Amazon finally restored virtually all services to its customers nearly five days later.

Some are warning that confidence in the cloud has been shaken by this incident, but a poll of eWEEK Europe readers suggests that most are either unaware or unlikely to change their plans.

There are predictions including from Informatica’s Soto, that the cloud is poised to take off in the enterprise market as well as the SMB sector.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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