In September 2012, Vice President Neelie Kores, responsible for the Digital Agenda, launched European Commission's strategy for "Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe." Six months later, a huge number of questions are still up in the air and a group of experts tried to answer them at the 2013 European Cloud Computing Conference in Brussels on 7 March.
European cloud market is not the only one trying to reach its full potential. There are different international cloud frameworks and new rules and standards must be harmonised in order to benefit both users and businesses, stated Robert Holleyman, President and CEO, BSA | The Software Alliance.
“The problem of the cloud is the mishmash of regulations”, he said and added that the “landscape is changing. We have to talk about how to make cloud market working for everyone.”
According to Holleyman, countries like Indonesia, Korea and the US are improving their legal frameworks for the cloud, but Europe is lagging behind due, in part, “to specific security laws.”
Despite Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain are among the 24 countries which have made marked improvements in the policy environment for cloud computing in the past year, much more effort is need “in both sides of the Atlantic”, stated Holleymam, who also highlighted that not all laws have to be identical, “but we need a balance.”
Standards' application is not always easy in the cloud. Legislators have to take into account national regulations, businesses' rules and consumers' rights. Therefore, a globally harmonised approach will help take advantage of the benefits cloud computing can generate, including costs' savings and jobs' creation, explained Verena Weber, Economist and Policy Analyst at OECD.
Margot Dor, Strategy Development at ETSI, made clear that the 250 partners, including telecoms, governments and organisations, are not “in production-mode”. She explained that they “are in coordination-mode with the relevant stakeholders”, therefore they are not working on European standards, she said.
All panellists agreed on the importance of cloud computing to generate growth in Europe. However, the cloud is a competitive market “where only bigger companies will survive”, explained Ton van Rhijn, Director ICT & IPM at CZ. He added that legislation is needed, “but not too much.”
Transparency, confidence, privacy and flexibility are also essentials in the cloud, where other issues are still unsolved, such as which would be the way to manage the digital content users are storing online.
According to Maria Martin-Prat, Head of Unit Copyright, DG MARKT, “services are not different for being cloud-based.” Nevertheless, small divergences might be the beginning of the creation of new measures in this digital world.