The European Commission has recently focused on a cloud computing strategy to boost uptake across all businesses in the European Union, with the aim to make Europe not only cloud-friendly, but cloud-active. Many companies in Europe however, still hesitate to adopt cloud computing because of reliability and safety issues. The partnership between public authorities and industry will look at common requirements for cloud procurement and create standards that will ensure sufficient security and competition.
"The relative newness and underdevelopment of the cloud computing market is the primary reason that public sector organisations delay adoption," says Frost & Sullivan's Research Analyst, Jayashree Rajagopal. "Several high-profile service outages in 2011 — such as serious technical difficulties that struck Amazon Web Services and affected a public cloud that serves thousands of businesses — resulted in more reliability questions."
Organisations worry that a data centre problem could result in hacking or the loss of citizens' sensitive personal information. Major entities are considering two options: private clouds that would either be managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally; and hybrid clouds, in which the organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally.
Public sector organizations also face other challenges. One of them is lack of international standards: strict data transfer regulations and differences in privacy and confidentiality definitions could affect compliance across borders. Data ownership and service accountability issues between ICT providers and public sector organisations are also big concerns.
"Compliance with government regulations also has to be considered," adds Ms Rajagopal. "The amount of data generated and the required security levels vary considerably across public sectors such as healthcare and transportation. A cloud service should meet basic requirements as well as address security concerns specific to a sector."
A main point that emerged from recent consultations by the European Commission is that cloud computing can be a low-cost and energy-friendly alternative to existing systems. Although data protection regulations have become stronger to suit the dynamic ICT world, cloud computing will only be accepted with a large-scale adoption.
The public sector can harness buying power and a coordinated IT approaches with a more integrated and harmonised cloud system. Once the system is in place, improved operational efficiency and citizens' confidence and trust would help cloud providers offer standardised services to other organisations.
"Encouraging the adoption of cloud in the public sector is an essential step toward establishing a 'cloud-active' European Union. It would set the trend toward a cloud economy," summarises Jayashree Rajagopal.
If you would like to learn more about Cloud Computing in Public Sector and/or receive more information about Frost & Sullivan "ICT in European Public Sector" Research Programme, please contact Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at Joanna.lewandowska[.]frost.com. Please include your full contact details in the query.
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