Cloud Computing Strategy : The European Cloud Partnership
Cloud Computing can bring significant productivity benefits to all, right through to the smallest companies, and also to individuals. It promises scalable, secure services for greater efficiency, greater flexibility, and lower cost.
The Commission has proposed new rules for data protection in the twenty-first century, including for data in the Cloud. But Europe must do more, because the Cloud market will grow, bringing opportunities for existing suppliers and new entrants. And Cloud buyers, including the public sector, will buy more with less and become more efficient. The Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda is inviting public authorities and industry, Cloud buyers and suppliers, to come together in a European Cloud Partnership.
In the first phase, the Partnership will come up with common requirements for Cloud procurement. For this it will look at standards; it will look at security; it will look at ensuring competition, not lock-in.
In the second phase the Partnership will deliver proof of concept solutions for the common requirements.
In the third phase reference implementations will be built.
The Commission will launch the Partnership with an initial investment of 10 million euros. The Commissioner expects good progress in setting it up in 2012 and first results in 2013.
The Partnership's initial work will create a strong common basis for Cloud procurement by public authorities. In the beginning, Cloud procurement might still be conducted separately. However, even in that form, the benefits of a common approach will begin to accrue – to Cloud buyers and suppliers. And by the way, there is no reason why procurement by private businesses and organisations would not adapt in this direction as well. Later on, public bodies, whether local, regional or at Member State level, may find it useful to develop the Partnership further so that it can play a role in a move towards increased pooling of resources and ultimately joint procurement.
Will it work? Something similar has been done for the federal administration in the United States. A group of European Scientific Institutions, lead by the European Space Agency and CERN, are advancing an analogous project among themselves. But Europe faces a complex landscape, probably more complex than the one faced by the US or the scientific community. That means there is a need for more commitment and initiative to get there. This is what Europe is about: doing things together where it makes sense.
The Cloud Partnership, and indeed the overall Cloud Computing strategy, is not about building a European super-Cloud, neither outright nor by forcing the integration of existing public Cloud infrastructures. Cloud business models, and the set-up of Cloud suppliers' and publicly-run data centres, should be determined by efficiency considerations on the market.
This European Cloud Partnership is a strategy as a whole to ensure Europe becomes not just Cloud-friendly, but Cloud-active.
**Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Setting up the European Cloud Partnership World Economic Forum Davos, Switzerland, 26th January 2012, SPEECH/12/38 Date: 26/01/2012,