The European Commission is seeking views from citizens, businesses, public administrations and other interested parties on how to fully benefit from 'cloud computing'. Cloud computing enables companies, public administrations and individuals, using networks such as the internet, to access their data and software on computers located somewhere else. It can help businesses – especially SMEs – to drastically reduce information technology costs, help governments supply services at a lower cost and save energy by making more efficient use of hardware.
Cloud computing is already used widely, for example for web-based e-mail services. This trend is growing and cloud services are expected to generate revenues of almost €35 billion in Europe by 2014. Promoting the right conditions for citizens and businesses to best benefit from this technical development is one of the actions foreseen by the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The online public consultation will run until the August 31st. Responses will feed into the preparation of a European cloud computing strategy that the Commission will present in 2012.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said: "I am excited about the potential benefits of cloud computing to cut costs, improve services and open up new business opportunities. We need a well-defined cloud computing strategy to ensure that we make the best use of this potential. The input we are requesting from all interested parties is important to get it right."
Cloud computing has the potential to develop into a major new service industry, presenting great opportunities for European telecoms and technology companies. Client companies and public administrations can benefit from lower costs and state-of-the-art services by using cloud computing rather than installing and maintaining software and computing equipment of their own.
The Commission is inviting all interested parties, in particular cloud developers and cloud users, to explain their experience, needs, expectations and insights into the use and provision of cloud computing. Inter alia, the survey seeks feedback on the following issues:
data protection and liability questions, in particular in cross-border situations;
other legal and technical barriers that can slow down the development of cloud computing in Europe;
standardisation and interoperability solutions;
uptake of cloud services, in particular by SMEs;
ways to promote research and innovation in cloud computing.
The results of the consultation will feed into a European cloud computing strategy that the Commission will present in 2012. This strategy will aim to clarify the legal conditions for the take-up of cloud computing in Europe, stimulate the development of a competitive European cloud industry and market, and facilitate the roll-out of innovative cloud computing services for citizens and businesses.