What are the key benefits of cloud computing for European businesses?
The European economy consists primarily of small and medium enterprises. 99.9 percent of all European businesses have fewer than 250 employees, 92 percent have less than ten. This means that the affluence of our continent depends on relatively small businesses that together need to be able to provide sufficient value creation, tax revenues and jobs to sustain our European way of life.
Cloud services are part of a technological revolution that has already changed many aspects of our life and will continue to do so in the future: the ways in which we produce, distribute, own, and communicate. Complex and extensive IT services have become a key production resource for companies. Even more importantly, this relevant operative production resource is no longer available only to large enterprises with ample capital. Instead, the cloud allows all types of businesses, even small start-ups, to gain access to this production factor with practically unlimited availability quickly and easily. This changes competition fundamentally and allows even small and medium enterprises to become significant competitors in many sectors of the economy.
In short, the cloud provides European businesses with massive benefits in terms of growth and competition that are still frequently being underestimated or not recognized at all.
Is Europe Ready for the Cloud
The cloud business is currently being dominated by a scant few very influential global players who offer excellent services but are able to command the market as oligopolists. SMEs generally do not have access to sufficient human resources to tackle the massive challenges related to the introduction and use of complex new technologies. But if we allow the small and medium enterprises to be excluded from fundamental technological developments, then we must also be aware that this choice will have a huge effect on our European prosperity.
The various challenges that the Cloud Revolution entails affect the selection process for cloud services as well as their integration and operation. The hurdles on the path to effective service management in a heterogeneous multi-provider environment require not only IT security specialists but also know-how in the areas of legal compliance, data privacy, data centre operation, the quality of operative processes, and many more.
The long-predicted lack of specialists is now becoming a reality and a stumbling block for development and economic growth. Educational systems have not yet been appropriately adapted, and a uniform European fiscal and regulative framework is likewise still missing. Nevertheless, as a European one can at least proudly say that the European General Data Protection Regulation represents a fundamental milestone on the road to a sensible order for the digital transformation. The GDPR is “Europe at its finest”.
What Makes a Good Cloud Service Provider?
Aside from offering compelling services at attractive commercial conditions, a good cloud provider is characterized by maximum transparency in all relevant areas relating to the provision of its services.
Transparency concerning the type and quality of the service provision, the involved partners, and the safeguarding measures relating to high-availability operation, security, data privacy, and legal compliance must be documented and communicated in great detail by a truly sound cloud provider. Such documentation establishes trust.
To simply produce an ISO certificate and attempt to pass it off as proof that all necessary evidence has been provided transparently and in a trustworthy manner can almost be viewed as the exact opposite and constituting intentional deception of the customer.
Dr. Tobias Höllwarth is President of EuroCloud Europe eurocloud.org, Director of the StarAudit Programme staraudit.org, and heads a European network of IT-lawyers: cloudprivacycheck.eu/who/. And he is member of the FIC advisory board.