Précis - The European Commission has announced a new cloud computing strategy that aims to boost GDP and create up to 2.5 million new jobs by 2020.

What? The ability of cloud computing to store, process and allow the on-demand use of data on remotely located computers accessed over the internet has the potential to greatly reduce IT expenditure, both in terms of capital and operating costs, across all organisations - large and small, public and private. The Commission's strategy seeks to increase use of cloud computing  across EU states, in a bid to boost productivity, growth and jobs, in the anticipation that the wider rollout of cloud computing and leveraging economies of scale could result in even greater savings on those seen at present, and which are currently estimated at between 10 to 20% for the majority of organisations.

The uptake of cloud computing is not without challenge, and raises particular concerns for users such as in respect to compliance with complex EU data protection legislation, data access, security and ownership, and business continuity and liability for service failure, downtime or  loss of data. This is where the EU comes in - the Commission believes that implementation of harmonised single market rules and freedom from local constraints could result in significant benefits, with preparatory studies estimating that its plans "..would generate €250 billion in GDP in 2020 with cloud-friendly policies in place against €88 billion in the 'no intervention' scenario..".

So what? To deliver its aims of increasing cloud computing uptake, the Commission intends to take three cloud specific actions:

  1. To develop a single standard to enable interoperability, portability and protection of data, and cut through what the Commission refers to as the "Jungle of standards";
  2. To develop Safe and Fair Contract Terms and Conditions; and
  3. To establish a European Cloud Partnership to drive innovation and growth from the public sector.

Over the next two years the Commission will seek to lay the foundation on which it hopes Europe can become a world cloud computing powerhouse. However, identifying the rules is one matter, implementing the rules and achieving the scale and type of benefits advanced by the Commission is another.