The Best (and Worst) Countries for Cloud Computing

U.S. moves up, European Union nations slide in the second annual cloud computing scorecard from a leading software trade group.

By Kenneth Corbin
Thu, March 07, 2013

CIO — With its promise of remote storage and delivery of services and applications, cloud computing by its nature is a technological framework without borders.

But unlike the virtual realm, the world that appears on a map poses a long list of challenges both to the adoption of cloud computing and the extent to which service providers are willing or able to take their operations global and open up data centers or other operations in new and emerging markets.

[Related: Foreign Cloud Privacy Issues Dismissed by U.S. Officials]

In an effort to make sense of that patchwork, the software trade group BSA today is releasing its second annual global cloud-computing scorecard, an evaluation of 24 countries' laws and regulations on a host of issues that bear on a company's decision to open shop in a new market.

Examining topics like cybersecurity and privacy, free-trade policies, broadband infrastructure and laws against cybercrime, the survey found wide swings in the relative "cloud-friendliness" of the policies in the countries it considered.

"I would say that it is a solid mix. There has been a lot of progress that we're very hopeful about," says Chris Hopfensperger, technology policy counsel at the BSA. "I think the thing that we see though at the end of the day is that there's good laws and bad laws and you end up with really patchy progress."

The 24 countries the BSA evaluated for its cloud scorecard account for around 80 percent of the global information and communications technology market.

For the second year in a row, the BSA ranked Japan as the friendliest environment for cloud providers, citing a high rate of broadband adoption, strong laws against cybercrimes and a solid framework to promote security and protect users' privacy.

Australia follows in the No. 2 spot, also unchanged from last year, while the United States moved up a position, switching places with Germany to rank No. 3 on the cloud scorecard, though the authors of the report attribute that advance more to the ongoing development of standards and infrastructure supporting cloud computing than any substantive policy measures enacted by the government.

Top 5 Countries for Cloud Computing:

  1. Japan -- High marks across the board; led the pack in data privacy, security protections; at or near the top in cybercrime laws, broadband penetration
  2. Australia -- Tied for highest ranks on laws against cybercrime and support for industry standards and global harmonization of rules
  3. United States -- up one spot from last year on development of standards; trails only Singapore in ICT readiness/broadband deployment
  4. Germany -- Dropped one spot, like other EU countries, on fear potentially restrictive privacy laws, protectionist policies
  5. Singapore -- Biggest single gainer year-over-year, up five spots on strength of new data privacy law BSA deems a sensible, "progressive" balance between consumer protection and flexibility for industry

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