Cloud for Europe, Europe for Cloud

A couple of weeks ago we spoke at the SaaS Cloud Symposium of the Dutch ICT trade association. Theme for the day, inspired by the European Commission and its public sector cloud computing initiative was “Cloud for Europe, Europe for Cloud”.

We kicked off the afternoon event with a presentation on the state of the Dutch Cloud (see slides below). Check out slide 6 for a quick maturity check (good scores on consumer cloud use and digital infrastructure, not so good on business and government cloud use and local cloud services supply).

Frank van Dam from the Ministry of Economic affairs followed on to talk about the EU cloud for Europe initiative. While his conclusion was that the cloud is not ready for the government, we would argue that the government is not ready for the cloud (see our maturity check).

Udo Oelen from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA) then spoke about the differences between European and US data protection laws. In Europe, personal data is protected by  constitutional law, whereas in the US it is governed by consumer law. The EU is proposing an update to the 1995 legislation. Key parts of the new legislation include stricter accountability rules for organisations that handle data and the introduction of a “one stop shop” principle that would make it easier for organisations to deal with the current 28 different member state versions of the 1995 law. The one stop shop principle is hotly debated at the moment and there seems to be no consensus yet.

Capgemini’s European CTO Ron Tolido then explained how cloud is a boon for business people. Finally they can get what they want without having to go to the dreaded (IT) department that ‘always says no’. (We agree, check out our Zombie CIO). He argued that a combination of open source software run on a public cloud infrastructure cannot be beaten because it is more reliable, a better solution, more agile and less expensive than any private cloud. He also believes that The Netherlands and Germany are too strict in the implementation of data protection laws compared to other European countries and that this attitude stifles innovation.

John Higgins, Director General at Digital Europe, the umbrella organisation of the local EU member state ICT trade associations, wrapped up the afternoon. Digital Europe’s vision revolves around the establishment of a single EU digital market, the empowering of the digital entrepreneur, and the creation of digital jobs and skills. The single digital market is not just about content but also about creating digitally powered single markets (vertical industries) such as health care and finance. (Check out our digital economy taxonomy to find out more about digital sector activities). He highlighted the emerging app economy as an example of job creation through digital technologies. (We have a different view and believe that for new job creation the app economy is a zero sum game). Last but not least, he segmented the issue of trust (check out our four scenarios for the public cloud) into worry about crooks, spies and data abusers. How should the industry increase trust in the cloud? For dealing with crooks he recommends closer cooperation with bodies such as Enisa. For dealing with spies he recommends to put more pressure on governments to set clear rules. For dealing with data abusers he recommends to support the new data protection legislation.

Our takeaway for the day? The cloud is more than ready for Europe, Europe is not ready for the cloud.

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