Kroes: EU can drive the cloud

In a speech at Davos, the European Union's digital agenda commissioner has argued that the EU is ideally placed to drive the adoption of the cloud
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Neelie Kroes, the European digital agenda commissioner, has strongly argued the case for heavy EU involvement in the cloud, in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Cloud Neelie Kroes

The EU should be 'cloud-active', according to digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Kroes said in the speech on Thursday that there are "manifold" reasons for EU involvement in the cloud. She focused on European efforts to foster research and innovation in the technology, and to align data protection and other legislation in the region with its development.

"Why should politics get involved [in the cloud]? What is the public interest here?" Kroes asked conference delegates. "The answer is manifold: just try to come up with an organisation that does not use a database or a network today. There can only be very few of this type, if any. All the others are potential users."

In November, Kroes called for cloud-computing providers to build data security into their services and products, to encourage potential customers with security concerns to adopt them.

The opportunities inherent in the cloud are for a "potentially vast new service industry", the commissioner said. She told the forum audience that the Commission has a responsibility to undertake measures to boost the technology.

"This goes beyond a policy framework. I want to make Europe not just 'cloud-friendly' but 'cloud-active'," Kroes added.

Cloud strategy

The three pillars of the Commission's cloud strategy are: legal frameworks; technical and commercial fundamental elements; and the development of the cloud market by supporting pilot projects of cloud deployments, according to the commissioner, who has responsibility for the EU's Digital Agenda.

People often ask me what will be done with all that bandwidth. I am convinced that cloud computing is an important part of the answer.
– Neelie Kroes

The outcome of the Commission's efforts in these areas will be a document combining analysis and a plan of future actions, which should be delivered no later than 2012, Kroes promised.

In January, the EU's information security advisory agency Enisa (European Network and Information Security Agency) said in a report that a private cloud, or a federation of interlinked private clouds, is the best fit for the IT needs of public administrations.

Reliable and widespread broadband is key to take-up of the cloud, as this creates an environment amenable to cloud services.

"Broadband for all — 'every European digital' — is the Digital Agenda's ICT infrastructure policy. People often ask me what will be done with all that bandwidth," Kroes said. "I am convinced that cloud computing is an important part of the answer."

In September, the Commission set out rules that it hoped would yield basic broadband access across the EU by 2013 and a 30Mbps minimum by 2020.

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