Monitoring the progress of a strategy as novel and complex as the EU's Cloud Computing strategy is no easy task. That's what makes today's meeting of the Cloud Select Industry Group (C-SIG) (with the participation of Cloud service providers, equipment vendors, telcos and user groups) all the more important. This is the first plenary C-SIG meeting this year, which will rely on the conclusions reached by the subgroups, that have been set up to help out in its difficult mission.
The C-SIG was created to provide independent validation and advice on cloud computing-related proposals. Its members are representatives of major European and multi-national companies and organisations with significant involvement in Cloud Computing. Earlier on, the C-SIG contributed to the implementation of the strategy; last year, a Cloud Expert Group submitted 10 recommendations on research priorities for boosting the cloud computing industry in Europe.
Three sub-groups, aimed at contributing to the strategy's implementation, have been working since early 2013 on Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Certification Schemes and Codes of Conduct. In today's C-SIG plenary meeting, participants will take stock of the work done so far, discuss progress in all the areas of action and contemplate on the way forward.
But what has this progress been mainly about?
- The subgroup on certification has worked for the past months with cloud suppliers, cloud customers and certification bodies. It has come up with an assessment of current solutions for cloud computing certifications and guiding principles; it has also defined objectives that are important for the cloud computing industry like being technology-neutral and affordable, or offering the possibility for self-assessment. During the summer, this work was advanced with the help of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). At today's meeting, ENISA's proposals and suggestions for the next steps will be discussed.
- The subgroup on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) was established to support the development of model terms for cloud computing contracts for professional users. SLAs determine the relationship between the cloud provider and professional users, and thus essentially provide the basis of trust cloud users can have in a cloud provider's ability to deliver services. For the past months, the SLA subgroup has been drafting definitions and a checklist intended to help IT resource directors ask the right questions when procuring cloud services.
- The subgroup on codes of conduct, jointly chaired by DG Connect and DG Justice, aims at developing a code of conduct for cloud computing providers to support a uniform application of data protection rules, fragmentation of which is considered to be one of the main barriers to the take-up of cloud computing.
Going forward, it will be important to address the remaining challenges with all relevant stakeholders so that Europe does not lag behind in the emerging cloud business.
Estimations about the impact of the cloud show that cloud can contribute up to €250 billion to the EU GDP in 2020 – that could reach a total cumulative gain of €940 billion for the period 2015-2020. The creation of around 400,000 new SMEs over a period of 5 years and a huge potential for job creation, 3.8 million of jobs created indirectly by cloud are factors that are not to be neglected.
There is no magic remedy to get Europe in the right place to benefit from cloud computing, just lots of hard work and the willingness to embrace the challenges of innovation and change. C-SIG groups are helping to structure the cloud and to put it on the right track!