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Yesterday a Santiago Bonet’s twit (@sbonet) advice me about a recent interview (the video is here) to Neelie Kroes, the EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda. In that interview Ms. Kroes states that we are not pleading for an European cloud, but what Europe can offer to the cloud …

EU Commsionner’s comments remind me a recent Gartner Report that states Europe is behind the US on cloud Computing.

According to Gartner, while interest in cloud in Europe remains high, the Continent will trail at least two years behind the US (here is the new).

“The opportunities for cloud computing value are valid all over the world, and the same is true for some of the risks and costs,” said Paolo Malinverno, vice president at Gartner. “However, some of cloud computing’s potential risks and costs – namely security, transparency and integration – which are generally applicable worldwide, take on a different meaning in Europe.”

In fact, Gartner has identified four main inhibitors for cloud in Europe over the next few years:

First, the Europe’s diverse and ever-changing data privacy regulations inhibit the movement of personal data to the cloud. Indeed, many companies in Europe eschew US cloud service providers for fears of potential conflict between European data protection legislation and the US Patriot Act.

Second, the complexity of business-to-business multi-enterprise integration and processes. Europe’s diversity issues are compounded when running common and intrinsically multi-enterprise processes across different countries, claimed Gartner. While European B2B infrastructure providers have turned this complexity to their advantage, diversity makes achieving critical mass more difficult and slows down the execution of players wanting to offer cloud services throughout Europe.

Third, EU policy-making processes and practices can hinder business. Indeed, the legislative process across the EU is slow and the resulting legislation can still vary widely across Europe. E-invoicing is one of the most recent examples of this.

Fourth, the effect on investment of the debt crisis in the eurozone. This has caused major investments to be put on hold, slowing down strategic and game-changing decision-making.

“The bottom line is that the interest in cloud is as high in Europe as it is elsewhere in the world” said David Mitchell Smith, vice-president and a Gartner Fellow. “While these inhibitors will certainly slow down cloud adoption in Europe, they will not stop it – the potential benefits of cloud are too attractive and the interest in its efficiency and agility are too strong to stall it for long.”

By the way, Michelle Alexis Cartier started an interesting debate about this subject on LinkedIn with some quite different point of view.  

In my opinion, public sector influence in IT business (cloud computing included) is more important in Europe than in USA. So, European Community Administration and the different European Countries Administrations have a bigger role in fostering business around Cloud Computing as users and buyers of services as well as making easy the business around.

In a previous post on my blogs (both http://wp.me/p2cqZY-c6 and http://carloscebrianmartinez.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/first-comments-on-eu-procure-secure.html), I already analyzed the possible impact of “Procure Secure: A guide to monitoring of security service levels in cloud contracts” published on 2012-apr-1 by ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency, working for the EU Institutions and Member States). In some way, this guide follows the USA “Federal Risk Assessment Program” (FedRAMP) published in February 2012.

In brief, both reports are based and share similar points. However, besides the different development level of both programmes, in my opinion the main difference is that the USA programme starts with a disrupting event: Cloud First policy that requires USA federal agencies to use cloud-based solutions whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists. In europe we lack that Cloud Policy, in spite of UK government stepped in that way creating “UK CloudStore”, a system designed to make the process of selecting software services simpler and, crucially cheaper for UK public sector procurement officers (see http://wp.me/s2cqZY-550)

As a European IT worker, I think we need a “EU Cloud First Policy” (or something like) to foster the Cloud market both the cloud providers and the cloud consumer companies, as well as the Cloud research & development investments. That won’t be enough, but it’s needed to bring down the 4 barriers that Gartners states cleverly.