European Harmonization in Cloud Computing

The European Parliament has lately shown in a resolution what an enormous leverage effect would result from the full release of cloud computing’s potential. By 2014, 60% of the entire server performance will be derived from Internet infrastructures. Revenues will rise to around 148.8 billion Euros.

By using standardized cloud services, business customers benefit from the conversion from investment costs to operating costs, as well as from the prompt availability of additional storage- and processing capabilities, depending on the relevant needs. Cloud computing also improves the SME’s chances on the global market. Moreover, public services benefit from the IT delivery model through the implementation of high-capacity technologies and applications, especially in the fields of e-health, educational- and transport services.

The barrier still impeding the real breakthrough of cloud services in Europe is the high diversification of the provider landscape, each of them having its individual solution approach, and the lack of customer confidence regarding system security and data protection. European Parliament members agree that only a “clearing of the jungle of standards”, secure and fair contract terms for cloud users, and a strong European cloud-partnership could make the way for a change.

On condition of geographically comprehensive, high-performance communication networks, system security of transport routes and shared communication hubs, and with the accompanying development of legal conditions for data protection and security, cloud computing will significantly grow and fully develop its economic effects over the next few years.

In the technical field this will address issues on the development of common standards and open specifications that would provide for a higher level of interoperability and easy data and application transfer when changing to another provider. In the legal field a flexible contract law must be developed, which would regulate the issue of data storage locations and service quality for data exchange and –retrieval regarding the defined customer requirements.

Public institutions must assume a pioneering role

In the targeted European cloud partnership public institutions must adopt a pioneering role. With a strengthened coordination between big cloud users using standardized European cloud services with infrastructures and computer resources from Europe, the current fragmentation of the technology would be solved, and legal security as well as confidence in the data protection system would be built for future business customers.

Stricter European data protection rules

As Viviane Reding, president of the EU Commission in her New York Times article in the middle of June mentioned, by tightening the European data protection rules Europe has changed the tone of the PRISM scandal. Providers of foreign-owned equipments, by which, for example, data can be accessed in the cloud, must strictly conform to the European data protection rules in the future. A reformed set of regulations will define more precisely what “personal data” is. The applicability of rules regarding authorized data access by authorities will be extended to infrastructure- and with that to cloud providers as well. Finally, it will be clearly defined under which legal conditions European companies’ and citizens’ data may be transmitted to foreign investigating authorities.

With this legal collaboration at European level a huge obstacle toward the adoption of cloud computing could be overcome in the future. In the technical field ETSI and ENISA would also be harmonized.

Europe must regain its IT sovereignty

Therefore, with my claim for a “United Clouds of Europe” I share the view of the European policymakers on this issue. Only a shared technology, an open European cloud platform with equally high security standards will give Europe its IT sovereignty back. And the new regulations regarding data protection and private sphere, along with the data storage and application administration in Europe, as well as with the place of jurisdiction in the provider’s country will decisively improve customer confidence in cloud computing.

The “United Clouds of Europe” could be a powerful catalyst in the creation of a digital domestic market. The greater convergence in technology and jurisdiction shall remove all obstacles in the demand on every level. Moreover, it will significantly cushion the key objectives of the 2020-Initiative “Digital Agenda for Europe” like broadband expansion, frequency allocation and data protection, as well as intensify Europe’s outstanding position in the development of service-oriented architectures.

“United Clouds of Europe” is the vision we must live now!