The European Union's executive arm has agreed to set standards for cloud computing for security, SLAs and contracts to make it easier for businesses in the cloud to expand services in Europe.
The EU's European Commission's said the new cloud strategy, called "Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe," will result in 2.5 million new European jobs and increase the EU's gross domestic product by $205.94 billion annually by 2020.
"Europe needs to think big. The cloud strategy will enhance trust in innovative computing solutions and boost a competitive digital single market where Europeans feel safe," EU Vice-President Viviane Reding said in a statement announcing the EU action. "That means a swift adoption of the new data protection framework which the Commission proposed earlier this year and the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions."
[Related: 7 Ways The Cloud Is Changing The Data Center]
The commission's initiatives will include:
- identifying standards by 2013 for cloud users on interoperability, data portability and reversibility
- backing EU certification plans for trustworthy cloud providers
- developing "safe and fair" contract terms for cloud computing contracts, including SLAs
The organization will also set up a European Cloud Partnership with its members and industries to develop public sector purchasing.
The commission also said it would work to improve standards for businesses based outside Europe to conduct cloud business.
"The Commission will also build on its on-going international dialogues with the USA, India, Japan and other countries, as regards, inter alia, key themes related to cloud services …," the Commission said.
The issues for discussion include data protection, liability, interoperability requirements and tax laws.
"Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy," Vice-President Neelie Kroes said in a statement. "Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains. We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on."
Hewlett-Packard endorsed the commission's initiative and said it will improve cloud operations in Europe.
"HP supports the vision outlined by Vice President Neelie Kroes today in Brussels regarding a unified and consistent Cloud Computing strategy across Europe," said Ian Brooks, HP’s European head of innovation and sustainable computing. "A legal environment that is friendly to cloud innovation is essential for Europe's economic growth, which includes the potential for 2 million new jobs by 2015."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 27, 2012
This story was updated on Sept. 7, 2012, at 3:47 p.m. PST, to add additional comments from HP's European Head of Innovation and Sustainable Computing Ian Brooks.