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More clout for cloud computing - 27/09/2012

Five electronic devices with blue screens linked by blue arrows to a single blue cloud © EU

New strategy to create single set of rules for cloud computing and increase EU GDP by €160 billion annually by 2020.

Many of us are using ‘cloud computing’ without even realising it. Web based e mail, Facebook and Spotify all use the technology to store data such as pictures, videos and text files.

The files are stored in massive data centres containing hundreds of servers and storage systems that are compatible with very nearly all computer software. When you wish to access your information, you simply connect to the ‘cloud’ from your PC, smartphone or tablet.

The advantages are numerous – users don’t have to buy or maintain expensive servers and data-storage systems. Over 80% of businesses already using the technology have reported a drop in IT costs of 10-20%, while 20% have seen savings of 30% or higher.

In addition to lowering IT costs, cloud computing saves office space and reduces the need for in-house IT support teams.

But the EU is not yet reaping the full potential of cloud computing. Many businesses are put off by uncertainties over data security or moving data between different cloud providers.

In response, the European Commission is proposing a strategy to tackle these risks , introduce a single set of rules, and boost the use of cloud computing by European businesses.

The strategy has four key aims:

  • Ensuring users can move data from one cloud to another – or withdraw data altogether
  • EU-wide certification for trustworthy cloud providers
  • Model contracts for cloud computing that make legal obligations clear
  • A ‘European Cloud Partnership’ between the public sector and industry to identify needs and ensure Europe’s IT sector can meet them. This will make European companies stronger in the face of competition from abroad – primarily from the US.

Through new opportunities for innovation and access to technology that increases productivity, businesses could add nearly €600 billion to EU GDP between 2015 and 2020, estimates the report Cloud computing in Europe – demand & barriers to up take

By the end of 2013 it should be clear whether further action or legislation is needed to support cloud computing.

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