Most major telecoms companies in Europe will become cloud providers within the next 12 to 18 months, HP's European head of innovation and sustainable computing has said.
Ian Brooks predicted on Wednesday that the European Commission's call for more European cloud providers will be answered soon.
"We will see most of the telcos go into this space with different value propositions and different price points," he told ZDNet UK.
Brooks, whose company sells bespoke storage, networking and scalable computing hardware to cloud service providers, said major telcos were building their cloud infrastructure now, and will be "onstream in 12 to 18 months".
However, Brooks warned that the European telcos that become cloud providers are unlikely to offer services that are "as scalable as Google". He also expressed uncertainty as to "whether they will have the cachet of [Amazon's compute cloud platform] EC2".
In July, the telecoms and media commissioner, Viviane Reding, said Europe was falling behind the US in the cloud market. She called for European clouds to appear within five years, in order to stimulate the take-up of on-demand IT services among small businesses.
Telcos in other parts of the world, such as Verizon in the US, have begun offering cloud-computing services in recent months.
Brooks said European cloud providers could surmount one of the main barriers faced by European businesses that want to move their applications and data into the cloud: data protection and compliance regulation that forbids sensitive or personal data being stored outside Europe.
"It would solve the issue of where data resides," Brooks said. "For some European companies, I definitely see a need." He added that the financial crisis was accelerating adoption of the cloud, as firms struggling to fund capital expenditure are turning to operational expenditure instead.