Is cloud computing the future for EU economy?

Neelie Kroes hopes to make the EU the ‘e-EU’ with new strategy

The EU has launched a new cloud strategy, entitled “Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe”, designed to increase the use of and speed up cloud computing in Europe.

“Cloud computing could offer a huge lift to the European economy, but only if users can understand and trust it,” said EU digital agenda VP Neelie Kroes to open her speech yesterday.

The figures: a yearly 160bn Euro (£127.6bn) boost to the European gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 – the equivalent of a few hundred euros per citizen - and a net gain of 2.5m jobs.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that Kroes called the cloud “a game-changer for our economy”.

According to the EU, one of the most important aspects of the strategy is to “cut through the jungle of technical standards”, with necessary standards to be found by 2013, as well as the development of “safe and fair” service level agreements (SLAs).

This seems understandable. As Kroes wrote in a blog post: “Without trust, many people are nervous or uncertain about using these new services. There are legally complex issues, and those hold a lot of people back from diving into the cloud”.

“The single market is our crown jewel,” she continued, adding: “A European cloud strategy gives our single market a new, digital home.”

This news may be very much needed for European cloud computing.

Recent research from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) noted that, out of 4000 EU citizens, a surprisingly low 29% used the cloud for business purposes, with the BSA president Robert Holleyman saying at the time: “Unfortunately, most computer users in the EU have little understanding of cloud computing, and have not yet moved to capitalise on the opportunities cloud computing offers”.

Back in May, a Gartner research report stated that European companies were on average two years behind US companies in terms of cloud adoption.

However, some of the blame was apportioned to the Euro crisis: Gartner at the time said that “increasing uncertainty...is slowing down strategic and game changing decision making”.

‘Game changing’ was, of course, a phrase used by Kroes in submitting this strategy. So has the paradigm changed?

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