European Union Announces Plans For New Cloud Computing Strategy
September 27, 2012

European Union Announces Plans For New Cloud Computing Strategy

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

The European Union made a move on Thursday to get its foot in the cloud computing door, saying it could deliver 2.5 million new jobs to Europe.

EU's commissioner for digital affairs, Neelie Kroes announced new plans to develop European standards and certifications to get businesses to join the cloud computing market.

Cloud computing is a way for users to store their data and software on remote servers, rather than having to store them directly on their computers or portable devices.

Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have been heavily integrating their devices with cloud computing technologies. In the last year, Apple has really pushed its "iCloud" technology to get user's to store their photos and music on its servers to free up their device's space.

Although the move to cloud computing frees up the space on a laptop or smartphone, the data still has to be stored somewhere. This kick starts a whole new industry by building remote servers that can sometimes take up the size of football fields for services like Facebook and Spotify.

Kroes believes a speed-up in the use of cloud computing, both in the private sector and through public services, could add $206 billion to the EU economy by 2020.

"But this can only happen if we get the policies right," she said in a statement announcing plans to develop European standards and certifications. "Today many potential users think it is too complicated, too risky or too untrustworthy."

She said the EU needs to set standards by 2013, approve EU-wide certification schemes and help develop contracts to reassure users.

"We were in the driver's seat in the 1990s. We should come back," Kroes said in the statement.

Under the new strategy, the EU would help to set up lists of "trustworthy" cloud providers, creating a formalized structure for how governments and other public bodies in the region should procure cloud services.

“Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy. Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains,” Kroes said. “We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on.”

Viviane Reding, VP for Justice and Citizenship, said Europe needs to think big in the cloud computing strategy.

"The cloud strategy will enhance trust in innovative computing solutions and boost a competitive digital single market where Europeans feel safe," Reding said in a statement. "That means a swift adoption of the new data protection framework which the Commission proposed earlier this year and the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions.”