European Commission launches European Cloud Partnership

January 26, 2012

Just days after announcing new data protection legislation, the European Commission is setting its sights on another important technology matter impacting businesses and consumers throughout Europe. The EC recently launched the European Cloud Partnership, a working group of officials, cloud users and providers designed to develop universal standards and cloud security requirements across all European Union member states.

"Cloud Computing will change our economy," said Digital Affairs Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a speech. "It can bring significant productivity benefits to all, right through to the smallest companies, and also to individuals. It promises scalable, secure services for greater efficiency, greater flexibility, and lower cost."

Kroes said improving security and competition in the cloud industry will drive additional cloud adoption and provide a jolt to the European economy at a strategically crucial time. The EC is especially interested in increasing cross-border cloud adoption by creating ubiquitous standards for businesses and technology providers.

While the cloud partnership, which was allocated $13 million in initial funding, is only in its beginning stages, some leading cloud providers are already voicing their support for universal regulations.

"We welcome this and will continue to collaborate with the EU to make the industry, governments and private people more secure and more comfortable in adopting cross-border cloud computing services," said John Vassallo, head of EU affairs for a major global provider of cloud-based services and other technology.

The commission's announcement comes after the United States government recently launched FedRAMP, a program to increase cloud adoption among federal agencies and provide a set of security standards for assessing and authorizing cloud products and services. Europe-wide regulations have become increasingly needed as more organizations have adopted the cloud. According to a survey by a European cloud provider, 71 percent of current and prospective cloud adopters believe data loss is a top security concern in the cloud, despite most experts reporting the contrary.

A recent R & D Magazine report examined the many advantages of cloud computing and concluded that cloud services can reduce costs, improve flexibility and make achieving regulatory compliance easier. Meanwhile, IT expert Michael Shaw told the source that security in the cloud is similar to other technologies, as businesses must devise strong security policies and question the data protection practices of third party providers before entering a service level agreement.

-McAfee Cloud Security