When it comes to adopting cloud services, Europe's lagging behind the US and other countries, though at least one of the roadblocks may be about to budge.
According to the New York Times, the European Commission may soon approve guidelines that address privacy and data security concerns. These might help to improve enterprise confidence in private and public cloud services.
Then again, the guidelines may not help at all.
According to the Times, the suggestions of the committee responsible for defining the EC's cloud computing policies sound great but could prove expensive for providers to implement. That could in turn make prices prohibitive, especially in a Europe that lacks economic confidence:
One recommendation would require a cloud services seller to inform clients exactly where their data are being physically stored at any time of day. Another would require sellers to delete all personal data in cloud computing centers when retaining the data is no longer necessary. A third may compel cloud service companies to disclose to clients the subcontractors they plan to use to process data.
This level of service costs money, potentially a lot of money. And those are costs that would be passed on to customers.
[Ed note: In this vein, take our latest poll on the cost of cloud services.]
What's more, granular demand for total data lockup may simply be unworkable. An example in the realm of public services occurred stateside when the City of Los Angeles stopped a Google Apps project in its law enforcement agencies. The service provider just couldn't meet the clients' demands.
Still, it may help that the pending EC recommendations aren't strict requirements. Also, their implied support of cloud services could help alleviate some of the jumpiness and lack of commitment European firms have had about cloud, particularly in the UK and France.
A cloud survey conducted last year by Alcatel-Lucent characterized these two countries' approach to cloud as a "malaise":
UK and France have the lowest percentage of those that strongly agree to both the pro and anti cloud statements. This along with the low satisfaction rates of cloud show the malaise towards cloud.
The US is the clear favorite in positive feelings towards cloud, while Europe shows a lack of enthusiasm.
The malaise may not be completely alleviated with better security and SLAs. Research firm Gartner Inc. noted in May that European policies and regulations contribute their share to cloud resistance:
Europe's diversity issues are compounded when it gets comes to running very common and intrinsically multienterprise processes across different countries. Frequently, regulations and business practices in one country are incompatible or undesirable in another, because each country typically extends its pre-existing legislation.
Then there's the economic overcast in Europe, which inhibits spending on any new IT paradigm.
Despite all this, the EC appears to be trying hard to move with the times and keep a stiff upper lip.
Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission who is responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, made a convincing case for the EC's cloud efforts in a speech in May:
Clearly, the forces holding Europe back from what cloud providers hope will be a future of strong spending are multidimensional and complex. But they're being articulated -- and that is a first step forward.
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