Cloud Computing – Enabling European Economic Recovery
We have entered a new era in computing, one in which software running on users’ own PCs and IT systems increasingly is complemented by applications and services accessed over the Internet from remote data centres. The advent of “cloud computing” promises to deliver new efficiencies and to stimulate new innovation.
Cloud computing refers to the processing and storage of your data on computers and data centres based away from your own premises. You are utilizing computing power that you do not own, and which is located somewhere else, in “the cloud”. This concept is familiar to anyone who has a personal online email account, like Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail, or who stores photos online. However, its increasing potential for businesses and governments is attracting considerable attention.
Historically, businesses and governments have run their IT in house, with applications and data on servers mostly at their physical location. As organizations increasingly look to drive down costs, there is a move towards the cloud. Large scale data centres offer economies of scale, providing cheaper computing power, combined with the flexibility to pay only for what you use.
We envision a future of billions of interconnected devices that interact between themselves and the cloud to optimise the user experience. Our approach puts choice and flexibility at the centre; we believe that in the future applications will be distributed between the cloud and smart devices creating a complete and enhanced computing environment.
Why is cloud computing good for Europe?
By lowering costs for European consumers and businesses, and lowering barriers to entry for European IT developers, cloud computing offers “the medicine needed for Europe’s credit-squeezed economy”, as Commissioner Reding stated in 2009. Simply put, both users and developers can do more with less, by obtaining access to more computing power without having to invest large sums in equipment.
With the available capabilities, we are seeing a great deal of innovation and entrepreneurship. Among the 8,000 European start-up companies participating in the BizSpark program, many are already providing innovative cloud-based services, creating great opportunities for the European IT industry.
Going forward organisations, especially SMEs, will be interested to tap into supercomputing power and have access to resources that were previously available only to the largest global companies, to increase productivity while lowering expenses. Entrepreneurial SMEs will seize these benefits to innovate, to reach wider markets, and to become more competitive. A study on potential cloud adoption in the EU concluded that the adoption of cloud computing solutions could create a few hundred thousand new small-and medium-sized businesses in Europe, which in turn could have a substantial impact on unemployment rates and GDP growth. The study also concluded that these benefits will be “positively related to the speed of adoption” of cloud computing. See “The Economic Impact of Cloud Computing on Business Creation, Employment and Output in Europe”.
For European governments, cloud computing offers the potential to reduce costs in a time of economic constraints while making data more easily accessible to citizens and making the process of governance more transparent.
Confidence in the cloud
Before the promise of cloud computing can fully be realized, however, users will need more confidence in the security, privacy, and portability of their data. Diverse legal requirements in different countries can hinder service vendors, and reliable high-speed bandwidth is a necessity. Industry and government must address some challenges to widespread adoption.
Security in Cloud Computing Overview
Privacy in the Cloud
Watch a video on the customer benefits of cloud computing
Microsoft Cloud Services
Software + Services
Wikipedia: Cloud Computing