In its study from September 2012, Unlocking the ICT Growth Potential in Europe, the European Commission announced its goal of accelerating Europe-wide adoption of this innovative ICT model. According to the report, this will require three measures: cutting through bureaucratic hurdles, negotiating a basis for secure and fair labour laws and the forging of a European cloud partnership to stimulate innovation and growth, particularly in the public sector.
From Theory to Practice, One Committee at a Time
The commission rightfully enlisted the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to evaluate current technical cloud standards. Decades of experience in specifications in a wide range of fields within the industry have given the ETSI the expertise needed for a critical assessment of the technology that creating working cloud infrastructures, identifying wider trends, and setting standards requires. Hence the institute’s forming of “Cloud Standards Coordination,” its special team of experts, who presented their final report to the commission in December 2013.
To help get a European cloud partnership off the ground, the commission launched a steering board headed by the Estonian President Toomas Henrik. In addition to Mr Henrik, the board is currently comprised of representatives of 19 private and public organisations. The board’s efforts led to the founding of the “Cloud for Europe Initiative” in Berlin in November 2013. In developing and testing the procurement requirements for pre-commercial purchase of cloud technologies and services through public funds, this initiative has broken crucial new ground.
Secure, Fair Labour Laws
Incorporating existing industry knowledge in the implementation of the European cloud strategy is an important matter in general. Yet with regard to creating secure, fair and above all uniform labour laws, it is indispensable. Its influence on customer acceptance of the economic ICT future model vastly outweighs that of the state-of-the-art technologies that interweave networks, applications and cloud computing into a global infrastructure. The former plays an indispensable role in earning the trust of customers, which the outsourcing of company IT resources to external service providers and the prevailing international dialogue surrounding data security have made the deciding factor in cloud computing’s success.
Thematically speaking, a number of questions arise in this regard, such as whether companies may keep the records of former employees, or what information corporations are legally required to disclose. Further issues include data integrity and storage location as well as means of secure data transfer. Ultimately, it all boils down to who owns what information and how cloud providers and cloud users share it.
Both as an experienced IT company with a long history in supplying SaaS (software as a service) and cloud services and a vehement advocate of the “United Clouds of Europe” concept, Fabasoft brought all its expertise into play as a member of the Cloud-Select Industry Group (C-SIG), which was entrusted with implementing this strategy.
Within just a few months (February¬-April 2013), the C-SIG launched three subgroups tasked with investigating the most pressing questions surrounding fair labour laws: the conception of service level agreements (SLA), the composition of certification schemes and the establishment of a code of conduct for data protection laws. In addition, a panel of experts on the cloud within the C-SIG works to channel Europe-wide research approaches to the “Future of Cloud Computing” in Europe.
The European Cloud Picks Up Speed
We and some 50 other cloud service providers within the C-SIG are very grateful for the exchange of experiences and the focused approach to promising solutions. Initial results can already be seen. The subgroup responsible for the Code of Conduct has already completed a first draft and presented these joint determinations to the cloud industry stakeholders involved in the “Article 29 Working Party” – an advisory body for data protection in which the national data protection authorities are also represented. The subgroup for certification mapped and analysed the existing procedures and drafted a glossary of definitions and conditions for a service level agreement. And the subgroup responsible for Service Level Agreements listed 11 attributes for standard options in SLA and contracts. Tangible results from every group should be available by this summer. With these focused efforts of the European industry and the rapid, success-oriented work in the C-SIG I am convinced that the ambitious goals of the European Commission to establish an inner market for cloud computing will soon become reality.
Fabasoft Looms Large in Europe’s Cloud Landscape
Naturally, Fabasoft is proud to take part in the consultations and implementations in the C-SIG that we owe to our consequent, public commitment to a European cloud. This enables us to both play a role in laying the groundwork for a European cloud as well as reach out to other stakeholders regarding the vast advantages a greater European cloud market offers in terms of compatibility, security and data privacy. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of our brand in the growing European cloud sector amongst the movers and shakers of European politics and business. And, of course, to extend Fabasoft’s reach in the pan-European marketplace as a medium company with a big message.