When looking at public cloud infrastructure as a service it is fair to say that, with some notable exceptions, most off the larger scale activities, initiatives and even the majority of excitement and buzz around this phenomena so far originated outside of Europe. Understandable, as both the largest and most visible users of public IaaS – think of organizations such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix – and the most well known providers of Iaas started their cloud activities on the other site of the Atlantic. Even when looking at government activities it is the US government that seems to be most enthusiastic, both in intend and action, about cloud computing.
Over the last year there are however some encouraging signs that public cloud IaaS is also gaining interest in Europe, both among users, providers, government and the press. Users are asking more questions and starting pilots and projects; Local providers are bringing their first or even second generation offerings to market; Governments are investigating opportunities and the EU even stated it wants Europe to be not only “Cloud-Friendly” but “Cloud-Active”. And in typical European tradition we see market players joining forces in new European associations or adding new chapters to their (many) existing vehicles of national and international collaboration.
A telling sign of cloud IaaS becoming more mainstream in Europe was the press picking up on the recent power outage in Dublin, headlining with how it impacted the European services of cloud IaaS providers. Now this power outage – for which the jury is still out on whether it was caused by lightning or something else – did off course not only impact cloud providers. Also several more traditional datacenters and datacenters services struggled, but the fact the press picked the cloud angle as headlining topic was telling.
So it’s clear there is a lot going on around public cloud IaaS in Europe: places to see, things to do and stuff to write about. And that is exactly what I plan to do from here. After the summer vacation I have started as a Research Director at Gartner covering this area. My colleague Lydia Leong just published a short piece detailing the Gartner teams, people and roles covering public cloud IaaS on her blog. At Gartner all IT-related analysts’ blog posts are first published on the Gartner Blog Network (GBN) at blogs.gartner.com before posting to existing or personal blog pages. If you’re interested in what we write and not write about on these blogs have a look at the Gartner Blog Network Q&A. Although tempted I will not use this post to do a further introduction of myself – with all of today’s social media my history should be an open book anyhow – plus I now have a new profile page here on gartner.com. In a next post I will cover some of the topics we are currently looking at in Europe and ways to brief us on your activities in those areas if you are a provider.
I do want to end with a disclaimer. Although “European cloud” has a nice ring to it, reality is that the idea of a European Cloud is just as “virtual” a concept as European citizen, European market and European tax. If you speak to someone from Europe and you ask where they are from, they will say Germany or Italy or France or the UK. Very few will say “I am from Europe” (unless they expect you to have absolutely no idea where their home country is located). Same for the European market. Although we have free traffic of (most) goods and services, companies have to fight for each individual market and European market share is a construct of adding up shares in individual country markets. Even a European Tax we have (so far) managed to avoid. And despite many consumers using global solutions like Twitter and Facebook all the time, I don’t expect the European cloud IaaS market to be extremely uniform for the foreseeable future. Not just because some regulations still prevent this, but also because local cultures, habits and even things like labor relations, are vastly different across different parts of Europe. This makes Europe such an interesting place to be, also when looking at this area of cloud computing.