This September the European Commission presented a new strategy aiming to create a single set of rules for cloud computing. The proposal identified three cloud-specific actions to increase EU GDP by €160 billion annually by 2020:
Key Action 1: Cutting through the Jungle of Standards
Key Action 2: Safe and Fair Contract Terms and Conditions
Key Action 3: Establishing a European Cloud Partnership to drive innovation and growth from the public sector.
The EIF breakfast debate on 28 November was an occasion to gather stakeholders from the European institutions, industry and the corporate community to share their reactions to this new strategy. The debate was chaired by Pilar del Castillo MEP, EIF Chair and EP Rapporteur for the Communication (ITRE Committee).
The first speaker John Higgins, Director General of Digitaleurope, representing European digital technology industry, congratulated the Commission on the new strategy. He pointed out that cloud amplifies the need to get certain policy issues, such as copyrights, data protection and standards, solved, and underlined the need to learn from the best cloud practices in order “to win the prize for Europe of getting better access to IT services through the cloud”.
Freddy Van den Wyngaert, Group CIO Agfa, represented the corporate user community. He noted that today we not only have the jungle of standards but also the jungle of cloud providers and thus a need to set standards for certification of cloud providers. Mr. Van den Wyngaert also called for standardization of contracts. “We need a fair environment, where we can get together with suppliers to develop contracts, terms and conditions which are acceptable for both sides and we need to make sure that we are not locked in as customers.” Mr. Van den Wyngaert also expressed the support for the European Cloud Partnership.
The last speaker was Ken Ducatel, Head of Unit: Software and Services, Cloud Computing at the European Commission and one of the fathers of this strategy. He stressed the importance of the cloud for the reduction of IT costs and underlined that cloud will change the way we do business in the future.
Mr. Ducatel then presented the European Cloud Partnership (ECP), focused on public sector use of cloud services. ECP has two levels. One is a strategic level, advising Commission VP Neelie Kroes on priorities for the cloud. The second level is about building users requirements across the European Union. Here we need to work together and learn from the best practices to define collectively what public sector organizations need from the cloud services.
He drew the audience attention to the fact that the new cloud strategy raised the fundamental need for a harmonized basis for data protection in Europe. “We need to lower the uncertainties that cloud providers and users have in respect of moving into the cloud and increase the possibilities for the economies of scale across the European space”.