Is Poland really buying into the cloud?

If you want to know whether or not Poland's at the forefront of cloud uptake in Europe, you'll have to ask around.
Written by Michiel van Blommestein, Contributor

Is Poland really embracing the cloud? It depends on who you ask.

While Western Europe has taken to cloud services with enthusiasm, the same can't be said of Poland. However, the country is seeing growth in cloud uptake, especially compared to others in the region.

According to a recent report (PDF) by Austrian IT company Kapsch, has the joint highest uptake of cloud services among Austria, Turkey and Central and Eastern European countries, as well as the highest percentage of companies looking to buy cloud services in the near future.

Currently, 31 percent of the Polish SMEs questioned for the report said they use a cloud service, more than any country in the region with the exception of Turkey. In comparison, only one in five Romanian companies now buy into some kind of cloud model. Even in 'Western' Austria, only 29 percent of the companies are subscribed to a cloud service.

The share of Polish companies planning to move (further) parts of their infrastructure into the cloud is also relatively high at 30 percent. It's the largest percentage in the region, met only by Romania.

So is Poland really as cloudy as the country's weather tends to be during the fall and winter? Not according to a study from analyst firm Audytel.

55 percent of Polish companies don't currently use cloud computing, the company says; and 40 percent are not planning for cloud adoption in the future.

Fear of adopting new technologies and questions over whether cloud services will be incompatible with the software supplied to Polish firms by their overseas parent companies are among the reasons more companies aren't adopting cloud, Audytel says. However, it still sees a definite trend in favour of cloud adoption, and the report's writers use the familiar cliché  of it's "not if, but when" Polish companies will migrate to the cloud.

Another report by market research company PMR estimates the value of the entire cloud market in Poland last year to be around €75m; up 30 percent year on year. And so far, larger companies (the same that are afraid to adopt it in the first place) are the ones driving the adoption, PMR writes.

So is Poland a cloud fan or a cloud phobe? A little of both.

"It's true that cloud computing in Poland has some catching up to do compared to countries like the US, France and Germany," Dariusz Nawojczyk, CMO of Polish cloud provider Oktawave, says. "Right now, I think we're at the same level as the US in around 2008 or 2009. Compared to Great Britain, Germany or France, I would say they're ahead by about three years."

Nawojczyk  does have doubts about some of the more pessimistic opinions around cloud, seeing some steep growth in the market. "Since our founding, our revenue has been growing with more than 20 percent on average each month," he says. "We are now a month or two from attaining break even, so we are very optimistic."

The main challenge for Oktawave as a startup, Nawojczyk says, is the same as in any country: awareness.

"People still often don't really make a distinction between servers, cloud instances, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers or even shared hosting," he says. Part of that, he argues, is because companies tended to present their existing offering as cloud, in the sense that they have been doing it for years now. "I think that in the West, companies were much more willing to try to expand their profitability by cutting down on buying infrastructure," he said.

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