When I talk with government leaders and chief information officers across our region, I’m often asked questions that seek to learn more about the latest trend towards cloud computing. These questions range from legislative compliance such as data security and privacy, to data formats and interoperability, to budgeting policies and how Microsoft is responding to these specific public sector requirements. We have been working with our customers and legislators on these issues for many years and continue to do so. In fact, and surprising to some, Microsoft has been successfully delivering a range of cloud services that address these issues for millions of consumers since 1994.
Interestingly, another common line of questioning comes from the need to understand the momentum that cloud computing is building up in the public sector and how fast the technology rhetoric is turning into a reality, delivering real benefits and advantages to governments and agencies across our region. I have to say that the sense of momentum was very real for those government ministers, customers, partners and media guests who attended today’s official opening of Microsoft’s new Cloud and Interoperability Center in Brussels.
This afternoon we were fortunate to have Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Benoit Cerexhe, Brussels Minister of Economy, Employment, Scientific Research and Foreign trade both speaking to an audience of Microsoft public sector customers, government representatives and technology partners from across Europe during the launch of the new Cloud Center. This new facility hosts the latest innovative public sector cloud applications, technologies and demonstrations all in one place to help visiting public sector organizations see for themselves how cloud computing and services can help enable more effective and efficient public services for their citizens. And I think it’s true to say that this would not be possible without the growing volume of new cloud services and solutions provided by the eco-system of Microsoft technology partners, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who have contributed their hardware and software based solutions to our Cloud and Interoperability Center demonstration zone.
We were also very privileged to hear from Mr. Tomás Roy, Chief of Quality, Security, and Providers Relationship. CIO Organization. Regional Government of Catalonia on how his administration is re-engineering their IT infrastructure by providing essential cloud computing services to 140,000 civil servants in the region. Catalonia is just one of many governments who, after detailed evaluation, are choosing cloud computing and driving the momentum of the public sector move to the cloud.
In fact, the theme of innovation and re-engineering infrastructures was taken to a new level today by Microsoft and Living PlanIT who together have a strategic partnership to enable a new generation of smart and intelligent cities. These smart cities will have their own technology platform that will bring together cloud computing, sensing, simulation and analytics within the very fabric of the city’s buildings and infrastructure to create an intelligent city.
Looking back on today, and in fact over the last six months, in just a short space of time we have been able to change from talking about cloud computing in a future tense, to seeing governments and partners embracing it enthusiastically for the benefit of citizens in our region today.We’ve been able to help convert the needs and ideas of Europe into actions through technology and innovation. In fact I am looking forward to seeing even more proof of this momentum when I attend the Government Solutions Forum in Rome in early April where public sector organizations and technology partners will come together to share and discuss their experiences of implementing solutions that help them be more effective and efficient public bodies in challenging times. I hope to see you in Rome soon.