Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe

As governments around the world look for ways to operate more efficiently, cloud computing continues to gain momentum as a solution for many public sector organisations. However, amid all of this momentum, we continue to see the necessity of sound policies and strategic cooperation among nations in order to realise the full potential of the cloud - most recently in Europe.

This past September, the European Union (EU) Cloud Strategy was launched in Brussels by European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neeli Kroes. This guidance represents a formidable endorsement of the cloud, showing a commitment to remove adoption barriers and ultimately accelerate cloud adoption in the EU. 

In summary, the document states that European governments have the opportunity take the lead implementing cloud technologies, outlines how widespread cloud use could benefit organisations across the EU, and calls for a collective EU cloud strategy in order to realise the full potential of the technology. Microsoft’s Joel Cherkis touched on this vision for an EU-wide cloud strategy in a recent blog post.

This is an exciting development from the European Commission, which aims to enable and facilitate faster adoption of cloud computing throughout all sectors of the economy because of the technology’s ability to cut information and communications technology (ICT) costs, and when combined with new digital business practices, boost productivity, economic growth, and jobs.

The strategy represents a political commitment of the European Commission and serves as a call for all stakeholders to help implement these actions, which could mean an additional 45 billion Euros of direct spending on cloud computing in the EU by 2020, as well as an overall cumulative impact on GDP of 957 billion Euros and 3.8 million jobs by 2020.

However, in order to realise the full potential of the cloud, the EU Cloud Strategy document shows several key areas where actions are needed:

• Fragmentation of the digital single market – The current fragmented market reduces the net potential of a unified environment.

• Problems over data access and portability – Having an integrated system of standards would greatly reduce inefficiencies in this area.

• A jungle of standards – This is a direct result of the fragmentation and creates an inefficient system for certifying cloud solutions.

The next two years, during which the actions outlined above will be developed and put into place, will ideally lay the foundation for Europe to become a world cloud computing powerhouse. The right progress during this preparation phase will provide a stable basis for a rapid take-off phase from 2014-2020, during which the use of publicly-available cloud computing offerings could achieve a 38 percent compound annual growth rate, doubling the rate that would be achieved if the decisive policy steps are not implemented. This is certainly an exciting time for cloud computing, and with the right policy and a strategic approach, I believe we’re on the right track for even more efficient and cost-effective governing.

Elias Ramos, Western Europe Government Director, Microsoft

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