European Union Outlines New Cloud Strategy, Draws Praise in U.S.

European authorities outline a proposal for a single set of rules to harmonize cloud computing among member states, with an eye toward a substantial economic boost. Some leading U.S. tech trade associations are praising the EU's efforts to better embrace the potential of cloud computing.

By Kenneth Corbin
Mon, October 01, 2012

CIO

EU, European Union, cloud strategy
As they look ahead to the next wave of technology, European leaders have staked out a firm commitment to embrace cloud computing, drawing praise from some of the leading U.S. tech trade associations.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has articulated a multi-prong strategy to boost deployment of cloud technologies among member nations, aiming to address key concerns such as trusted certification, interoperability and collaboration among stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

At the highest level, the proposal (available in PDF format) seeks to establish a common set of rules of the road to develop a more cohesive market structure among the various member states for cloud providers.

"[I]t represents a political commitment of the commission and serves as a call on all stakeholders to participate in the implementation of these actions," the authors of the report wrote.

"Addressing the specific challenges of cloud computing would mean a faster and more harmonized adoption of the technology by Europe's businesses, organizations and public authorities, resulting, on the demand side, in accelerated productivity growth and increased competitiveness across the whole economy as well as, on the supply-side, in a larger market in which Europe becomes a key global player," they continued.

By the EU's own estimates, the adoption of cloud computing technologies would help European nations boost their collective GDP by some 600 billion euros, or about $774 billion, from 2015 to 2020.

Among the commission's high-level recommendations is a call for harmonization of the member states' disparate national laws concerning digital content and the location of data, a concern familiar to U.S. cloud providers with overseas data centers. "This is in particular related to the complexities of managing services and usage patterns that span multiple jurisdictions and in relation to trust and security in fields such as data protection, contracts and consumer protection or criminal law," the authors wrote.

On the subject of contracts, the report highlights the challenges of data access and portability, such as the difficulty of setting a fair standard for compensation in the event of downtime, ownership of data and dispute resolution.

Additionally, the roadmap suggests that the "jungle of standards" that cloud providers must navigate has created significant confusion in the industry, with vendors struggling to differentiate standards geared for portability and access from those that pertain to the protection of personal data or defenses against cyber attacks -- and the extent to which one may be compatible with another.

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