Looking into the EU Cloud Computing initiative

The European Commission produced a communication entitled “Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe,” which announced a new cloud computing strategy for the European Union. The EC released a statement saying that the Cloud computing strategy will, if it works, facilitate the use of the cloud across the EU both in the state and private sector.

This would create and estimated 2.5 million jobs and 160 billion Euros added to the EU’s GDP by 2020.

The initiative would align cloud computing services with existing EU protocols regarding consumer rights such as privacy and security of data under the Data Protection Directive. This would mean that those individuals concerned with the distribution of their data online and in the cloud would have a better degree of protection.

The proposal has several strategies including:

- To put in place scheme whereby technical standards are voluntarily taken up by the relevant industries so that users can benefit from “interoperability, data portability and reversibility.”

- To put in place certification standards across the whole of the EU.

- The writing up of template contracts terms to establish an overarching standard. This would include service-level agreements as well as numerous data protection protocols.

- To create a Pan-European Cloud ‘Partnership’ which would increase public sector buying power so as to become and remain competitive both within the EU and outside of it.

This is all being put into place so as to try and resolve some key customer concerns about data security; it is these concerns which have been the main factor barring potential customers from investing in cloud technology.

Once established, it aims to remain fluid so that the implementation of data protection laws is effective, even in the ever-changing high-tech world. Legislation needs to keep up with technology and be highly flexible, if it is to be effective at all.

This is a bold step indeed, but one which, if implemented properly, could help the cloud industry immensely. The legislation must not be hindered by red tape though, and there must be high level and frequent expert consultation in order for it to be successful.

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17 Jan 2013, 8:16 p.m.

I'm not sure this will work. As I've outlined in this blog post http://www.planyscloud.com/culture-could-hinder-cloud-growth-in-public-sector/ there are fundamental issues in the state sector that will mean this is not a quick process. Also setting standards at an EU level for private companies is also not going to work either as many have different objectives and goals for cloud adoption and are adoption of standards are driven by commercial reasons and not EU policy. The money should focus on changing the culture within state to allow this adoption to be smoother than it will be.