A policy debate is raging in Europe over cloud computing and those who want to bind the cloud in over-prescriptive regulation threaten to prevent the benefits of the new technology being felt, argues Thomas Boué.
Thomas Boué is director of government relations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the Business Software Alliance, a trade association.
A quiet battle of wills has broken out among European policymakers who are pushing competing visions for how to capitalise on the most significant wave of innovation now underway in information technology: cloud computing.
All agree that by creating a new, more efficient architecture for computing, the cloud offers vast economic benefits. It lets enterprises avoid the cost of buying and maintaining some of the IT hardware and software they need to run their operations. Instead, they can have their computing resources delivered over the internet, as infinitely scalable services. For established companies, this creates cost savings that can be reinvested in the core business. For smaller start-ups, it represents one less obstacle on the path to growth.
But while some rightly see the cloud as an opportunity to accelerate commerce and expand global trade in digital services, others harbour more protectionist urges, focused on creating a European fiefdom in the cloud at the expense of global scale.