The European Cloud Strategy published last September is a relatively realistic document, aiming at addressing issues of self-certification, procurement, and contracting. While there was an initial fear that a EU strategy would have led to building local solutions and infrastructure, the outcome is reasonable and most likely quite useful across different industry sectors.
One of the actions is the creation of a European Cloud Partnership
to provide an umbrella for comparable initiatives at Member State level. The ECP will bring together industry expertise and public sector users to work on common procurement requirements for cloud computing in an open and fully transparent way. The ECP does not aim at creating a physical cloud computing infrastructure. Rather, via procurement requirements that will be promoted by participating Member States and public authorities for use throughout the EU, its aim is to ensure that the commercial offer in Europe is adapted to European needs
The assumption is that the public sector, as the largest buyer of IT services, should take the lead. As a consequence it looks exclusively at public sector cloud requirements and to possible joint procurement of cloud services across member states.
This is reinforced by the composition of the Steering Board. Led by the President of Estonia, it includes high-level executives from six other countries, plus a number of large technology providers, including very few cloud service providers and many system integrators.
Notwithstanding the stature of the individuals involved, this looks relatively imbalanced to me. First of all I was expecting to see more global cloud providers involved.Then I would argue that representatives from other industry sectors, such as financial services, media, retail, manufacturing, utilities, would be beneficial. In fact, most of the compliance issues that affect government agencies are of relevance to other industries, especially those that are heavily regulated. Finally, despite the claimed interest for involving smaller suppliers, there is no single voice from small suppliers
A statement recently issued by the Steering Board shows that, besides promoting standards and self-certification schemes, it
will identify three cross-border and interoperable cloud pilot projects to be set in
motion by 2014 that move cloud use into mission critical areas of business and public
life, in areas such as eID, smart cities, eHealth, eEducation, research and digital
content services, building on existing large scale pilots. A vehicle for this will be joint
member state implementation initiatives for which a call for proposals has already
been opened in the EU research programme
So the bottom line is that this Board is primarily an extension (or rather a reshuffling) of the governance structure that the European Commission put in place for its large scale pilots launched a few years ago.
One can only hope that they can set the strategy on the right path and that the composition of the partnership is more balanced than its Board would suggest.