Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Creating a shared European cloud space

At today’s European Cloud Partnership (ECP) steering board meeting in Berlin, and the following Cloud for Europe conference, the hot topic was a proposal for a “shared data area” agreement (SDA) for European cloud. We’re note overly happy with the name so it probably won’t stay; it implies too much about locality and/or a “fortress Europe” in terms of cloud.

Pleasingly, the steering board almost unanimously supported the proposal. Following our sector getting unprecedented attention at the recent EU Council meeting the board also wants to strike while the iron is hot, and we have the challenging target of solidifying the proposal in time for the next one early next year.

The need

Europe lags behind the US in terms of cloud adoption and cloud service providers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to utterly dominate the IaaS market, according to Gartner’s latest figures bring five times all its competitors combined. We also still don’t have European versions of the SaaSes many enjoy like Google Mail, Google Docs and DropBox.

Adoption of cloud services in Europe by companies of all sizes also seems to lag behind our international competition, making our firms less competitive on the global stage.

When considering the public sector, European countries, especially EU member states, are intimately trusting in most affairs (they share a currency!) but don’t consume each others’ cloud services.

A big part of the problem for this use case (government cloud) is that it is very hard for companies to sell their services cross-border due to a combination of archaic, non-standardised data protection regulations and/or national security compliance requirements. This also hinders the private sector in many instances.

A company like Memset, whose services could save continental European governments a stack of much-needed cash, can’t sensibly afford to go through compliance for each government. This compounds the innovation piece; we’d love to work with some European SMEs, but it is hard to do so.

The ECP sherpa group (the smart folks who actually do the heavy lifting in response to the pontifications of the likes of the Toomas Iilves, Neelie Kroes and me ;)) came up with the the concept of a SDA.

The overarching goal is to help create a single, harmonised market for cloud services in Europe.

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