Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network (typically the Internet). Cloud computing provides computation, software applications, data access, data management and storage resources without requiring cloud users to know the location and other details of the computing infrastructure. End users access cloud based applications through a web browser or a light weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location.
Cloud application providers strive to give the same or better service and performance than if the software programs were installed locally on end-user computers.

At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of infrastructure convergence (or converged infrastructure) and shared services. This type of data centre environment allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with easier manageability and less maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust IT resources (such as servers, storage, and networking) to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand.

Boundaries of cloud computing lie in economics rather than technical limitations. Layers of cloud computing are cloudapplications (software as a service - SaaS), cloudplatforms (platform as a service - PaaS and cloud-infrastructure (infrastructure as a service (IaaS). With cloud computing, one is not bound by device or location. Only a web browser and internet connection are required.

GAIA-X: A Federated Data Infrastructure
for Europe


March 2013, following the release of the European Cloud Computing Strategy in September 2012 and the European Cloud Computing Conference in March 2012, the 2nd conference discussed further the opportunities offered by the technology and examine the necessary steps to be undertaken so that Europe can fully take advantage of the benefits provided by the Cloud while continuing to protect European businesses and citizens interest. The conference assessed the plans outlined in the Strategy, analysed the barriers to a successful implementation of the proposed measures, and finally looked into various solutions to overcome the remaining challenges to maximize the potential of Cloud Computing in Europe. Sessions at the conference included:

- Maximising the economic and environmental benefits of Cloud Computing in Europe
- What should be the legal framework to help create a market for Cloud services?
- Cloud Computing rules in Europe for a Global Cloud Computing Market
- Copyrights in the Cloud: managing the licensing of digital content and law enforcement of online piracy
- European Cloud Partnership: for a cloud active public

On 21st March 2012, Forum Europe hosted the 1st European Cloud Computing Conference. It offered the opportunity to hear from professionals from the technology industry, EU policymakers and other stakeholders and to debate on the current state and the future of Cloud Computing in Europe. Cloud Computing is becoming increasingly utilised by private and public organisations, and has the potential to play a key role in tomorrow’s economy by generating growth and creating jobs. With US cloud providers currently leading the way in the global market, there is a need for the EU to act now in order to develop a European Cloud Market and ensure that the huge potential for industry is achieved.


The European Commission recently held a public consultation on cloud computing in order to appreciate the use of the technology and to understand the obstacles affecting the adoption of Cloud services. Based on this and on other research, Commissioner Kroes has recently invited public authorities and industry to work together in a European Cloud Partnership as part of the implementation of an overall EU-wide cloud computing strategy.

The aim of The 2012 European Cloud Computing Conference was to debate how to implement a well defined European Cloud Computing Strategy. It examined the numerous opportunities offered by the Cloud; discuss the issues related to the technology from policy, business, technology and user perspectives; and will highlight the need for a EU Cloud policy and regulatory framework. Finally, the conference gave the opportunity to look into the necessity of standardisation to guarantee interoperability between Cloud providers in order to create a competitive European market for Cloud services and to “make Europe not just Cloud-Friendly but Cloud Active”.

Through workshops, the industry worked on four main areas:

1. data privacy, governance and identity management.
2. Trust, security and certification.
3. Interoperability, data portability and reversibility and
4 innovation and uptake.

After analyzing the issues, 10 key recommendations were identified and categorized by legal framework, market related, and technical related. The recommendations are:

- promote the digital single market to encourage efficient cross border cloud services;
- analyze existing legislation and legislation under review to remove barriers to cloud computing;
- ensure privacy legislation is horizontally assessed for its compatibilty with cloud computing, and is looked at in a global context;
- SME cloud strategy: raise awareness and encourage uptake of cloud computing;
- public sector cloud strategy for Europe: raise awareness & promote uptake of cloud computing amoung public authorities;
- advance practices and contracting in cloud computing;
- ensure a proper response to data breaches in the cloud;
- investigate further the creation of voluntary and industry led mechanisms of enhancing trust and security;
- build on the past & foster collaborative research in cloud computing;
- foster interoperability and data portability in the cloud.

The conference kicked off with 4 keynote presentations and an Q&A session. Member of Vice-President Kroes cabinet, responsible for Cloud Computing Strategy, European Commission delivered the first keynote presentation on 'Cloud computing development and building the European Cloud Strategy'.
"It is about cloud and vice versa. We need horizontal view. The Commission act as policymaker, funding agency and infrastructure builder, as well as analyzer and an institute that drafts the plan for future actions in 2012 and the 'European Cloud Strategy". In this connection, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) was mentionend.
Also the role for SME's was stressed

The second presentation was held by the US Ambassador to the EU, US Mission to the EU and focused on the view from the US and it was said that the strategy of the US takes place at presidential level. "Cloud computing is smart and clean".

There are related issues to work on together. These issues are to find in the field of security (protecting systems of privacy), legal frameworks and on using common, not only transatlantic or global, standards. All stakeholders have to join and business have to think global.
Just as the representative of the European Commission, the US Ambassador too stressed the importance for the
SME's business.

Hereafter followed a presentation by a MEP on legislation: 'The view from the European Parliament'. The series ended with the presentation by Dell on 'The view from the Industry'. A reference was made to their website 'Dellintheclouds' and SaaS (short for Software as a Service) a software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Remarks during the discussion: on a comprehensive holistic strategy, no chaos in dataservices, a competitive marketplace. Finally, it was concluded that the (r)evolution has a great impact on the European economy.

Session 1, 'The Cloud: a means of realising European economic growth?', focused on the Commission’s plans for the development of a European Cloud Partnership between public authorities and industry to implement a European Cloud Computing Strategy. This panel discussed the role that cloud computing can play in Europe’s future IT landscape, and what can be done in both the short-term and the long-term in order to maximise its benefits and potential economic impact.

It was questioned what the current adoption level is of cloud computing in Europe, and what the main barriers are that need to be overcome in order to increase this. What role education can play in ensuring end-users are well informed in how to best take up the opportunities offered by the technology. What opportunities in the cloud exist for the European IT industry (including SMEs). How a common basis for cloud procurement by public authorities can be set-up. And what benefits the technology can provide for European businesses and authorities in terms of flexibility, efficiency and scalability, and the consumers in terms of service, accessibility, storage and technological ease. How the Commission’s European Cloud Strategy can help all of this to be achieved.

Session 2, 'Security and privacy regulatory challenges in the Cloud: Simplifying the legislative minefield', explored the issues that cloud computing raises with regards to data security, privacy and liability, both within the EU and globally.

William E. Kennard, US Ambassador to the EU, US Mission to the EU
Questioned was what clarification on data ownership and on responsibility over data loss or data leakage is needed, to what extent do current laws governing international data transfers and need to be updated to take into account the new era of cloud computing, how far Commissioner Reding’s review of the EU data protection directive does go in doing this, will a well-defined Cloud legislation guaranteeing data protection be enough to overcome concerns over security and to gain the confidence of potential users, how regulators can balance the need to safeguard data with the important goal of ensuring the uptake of the Cloud is not jeopardized, to what extent legal and regulatory solutions can be co-ordinated at a global level, and how European legislation can be integrated with other data laws, for example the US Patriot Act (*), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which stands for prudent corporate governance and SOPA (Stop On Line Piracy Act).
And where legal conflicts remain when dealing with third countries, how it can be ascertained where the precedence lies. Finally, to what extent the creation of EU based cloud computer centres can be used to help simplify the legislative maze.

In May 2012 there appeared the publication 'Competition, Neutrality and Diversity in the Cloud', devoted to Cloud ecosystem and platforms competition. The paper argues that policy-makers should work on several fronts, including privacy, security and competition policy, before the transition to the cloud ecosystem can be seen as really conducive to a desirable outcome for end users.

Work in the direction of the intercloud architecture and a European partnership for cloud computing should thus be oriented towards an open, competitive environment, compatible with different levels of quality of service, and such that end users can still access a robust, best-effort internet infrastructure, along with managed services with guaranteed QoS

The last session, 'Delivering a coordinated Cloud infrastructure in Europe: the importance of funding, research and innovation', and with panellists T Systems, Eurocloud Europe, and EMEA, Intel Corporation focussed on the infrastructures and technical cooperation required to help the Cloud deployment throughout Europe.

Here raised questions as how the technical barriers (such as the lack of fast, permanent and reliable connectivity in some areas) which could slow down the development of cloud computing in Europe should be overcome, what measures can be undertaken by the Commission and Member States to motivate investment in this area in order to trigger innovation. Panellists also discussed the need for cloud providers to work together to encourage the development of standards in order to ensure interoperability between providers. Will this be enough to boost the adoption of the technology? How can we avoid vendor lock-in and facilitate data-portability? How should global cooperation on standardisation be implemented to tackle compatibility problems worldwide? What benefits will common requirements for Cloud procurement provide the Industry and public authorities?

T systems



(*) The Patriot Act is a U.S. law passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Its goals are to strengthen domestic security and broaden the powers of law-enforcement agencies with regards to identifying and stopping terrorists. The passing and renewal of the Patriot Act has been extremely controversial. Supporters claim that it's been instrumental in a number of investigations and arrests of terrorists, while critics counter the act gives the government too much power, threatens civil liberties and undermines the very democracy it seeks to protect.