EU shakes up cloud strategy with provider certification programme

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Cloud project to be economic game changer, says Neelie Kroes

The EU Commission is to shake up its cloud computing strategy, creating a certification programme for cloud providers as it aims to create a €160 billion boost to EU GDP by the end of the decade.

EC vice president Neelie Kroes laid out her vision for the future of cloud, claiming that a new strategy directed at speeding up the use of cloud computing in across Europe, creating 2.5 million new jobs.

Some of the main actions will involve getting rid of a “jungle” of technical standards to enable interoperability and data portability, with a standards systems in place by 2013.  A certification scheme will also be set up to give EU backing to trustworthy cloud providers, while Service Level Agreements will also drawn up for safe and fair contract terms.

A European Cloud Partnership will also be created with member states joining with industry to make use of public sector buying power – 20 percent of all IT spending the EC says – to help ‘shape’ the cloud market in Europe, and enable cloud providers to deliver cheaper and better services.

“Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy,” Kroes commented. “Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains.”

“We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on.”

Vice-President Viviane Reding said that Europe needs to think big with its cloud plans. “The cloud strategy will enhance trust in innovative computing solutions and boost a competitive digital single market where Europeans feel safe.”

“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.”

HP, which provides its own cloud services, welcomed the decision to create a legal environment that will benefit innovation, and ultimately speed cloud adoption, with the establishment of a European CLoud Strategy later this year.

“HP supports the vision outlined by Neelie Kroes today in Brussels regarding a unified and consistent Cloud Computing strategy across Europe,” said Ian Brooks, HP’s European Head of Innovation and Sustainable Computing, in a statement today.

“A legal environment that is friendly to cloud innovation is essential for Europe’s economic growth, which includes the potential for 2 million new jobs by 2015.”

Brooks said that EU member states will not see the full benefits of this technology unless steps are taken to remove some of the barriers to adoption.  If this is achieved then it will benefit business, with HP claiming that half of all CEOs and CFOs have already set cloud strategies for their organisations.

“Clearly, business recognises cloud will be critical to driving successful outcomes and innovation,” Brooks continued. “However, there is still some work to do in unlocking the benefits of it, and we therefore welcome the EU Commission’s sustained leadership in the region, and remain in continuous support of them in moving the issue forward.”

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