Cloud Computing

Darren Grasby (Europe) - Europe Can Benefit Working as One to Capture Cloud Computing's Big Opportunity

Cloud computing has grown in importance as more governments and businesses use it to help reduce capital expenditure, improve collaboration and accelerate projects with minimal risk and, if successful, grow those projects quickly. Cloud computing takes advantage of the open accessibility of the internet to act as a universal platform that connects people and the world of commerce. But as uptake grows, all parts of the stakeholder community must work together to maintain openness and ensure that Cloud computing infrastructure is fully interoperable and accessible, while also addressing critical issues such as security, competition and manageability. Cloud computing flattens the world playing field, providing fertile ground for new success stories at every turn. Start-ups can access many of the same IT resources as the world's biggest organisations with minimal upfront hardware and software costs. Similarly, governments can help reduce or redirect swathes of budget, helping them to offer services that offer value and savings for taxpayers. Citizens reap the benefits of cloud-based email, storage, video and services at low cost and amazing simplicity. And of course, a new generation of Cloud services will help stimulate the economies of the creators' native countries.

To help realize the economic benefits of Cloud computing, governments and industry jointly play a vital role in increasing trust among users, promoting understanding of smart practices and embracing responsible policies that are brand-neutral and encourage innovation and competition. With input from AMD and other industry leaders, the European Commission's new strategy for "Unleashing the potential of Cloud computing in Europe", issued in September 2012, is significant in boosting hopes of a resurgent European economy. As Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, there is the opportunity of a "huge economic benefit totalling hundreds of billions of euros by 2020 ... plus millions of new European jobs. But that will only happen if we get the policies right."

With its EU strategy document the European Commission addresses standards and certification to create robust Cloud infrastructure, develop best practices (such as, public procurement programmes) and engender trust across the region.
While the Commission's Cloud computing strategy is helpful, the real opportunities and challenges for Europe lie in developing a harmonised set of implementation laws and practices. Europe must work to remove grey areas and tackle concerns over supplier lock-in by promoting open, common standards and Cloud systems interoperability so users can trust in their ability to switch between suppliers without being penalised. Today's recognized privacy frameworks are not consistently implemented across Europe. There needs to be greater transparency of Cloud providers' practices and assurance that their IT infrastructures are highly resilient, backed up by easily understandable contracts and clear service-level and service-credit regimes. And as to the question of lock-in, it is currently possible, by chance or design, that frameworks give some powerful suppliers a leg up while limiting the participation of others. There needs to be a guarantee of open, non-proprietary technology standards to ensure that free competition among component and end-product suppliers leads to value, choice and innovation for buyers.

It's crucial that European governments act as one. Cloud computing offers tremendous opportunities in so many areas that it would be a shame to fail through ineffective policies and a loss of faith from businesses and consumers. Other powerful trading blocs like North America aren't hamstrung by the complex set of jurisdictions that can sometimes slow down Europe. But with the right approach and parties acting in good faith, Europe can seize the initiative and drive forward to take advantage of this inflexion point in business and technology.

By Darren Grasby, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, AMD EMEA



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