No one is immune to the ever-changing technology forecast, but one constant (at least for the near future) appears to be global cloud cover. Cloud computing is arguably the most dominant theme on every enterprise’s IT list, but in Europe, it’s being met with some key challenges. The European Commission acknowledges that Europe must become more “cloud active” to stay competitive in the global economy, but public cloud adoption is fragmented and lags behind the US by some three to five years.
So what’s stopping cloud adoption in Europe? Major cumulative barriers to adoption include concerns surrounding legal jurisdiction and data security. Cloud computing and IT security companies know all too well that data privacy laws vary greatly around the world – a key challenge for global enterprises as they seek to adopt the cloud. Each country/geography they operate in has specific data regulations that must be met. And each country/geography in which they store and process data, which may be different from where they physically operate, also has specific data laws that must be followed. To complicate matters, these rules and regulations are very likely to change over time, particularly as technological advances emerge and government regulators fine tune their policies.
In a recent study entitled “Cloud in Europe: Uptake, Benefits, Barriers, and Market Estimates” research firm IDC surveyed European business users and consumers. IDC’s research uncovered 12 key obstacles ranging from cloud data residency and security issues to slow performance and limited tax incentives for capital spending. But the majority of survey respondents (62.2 percent) cited four specific barriers, primarily related to data control:
- 1. Legal jurisdiction: Where the does the service reside? Where does the data reside? What if I don’t want my data stored in a specific country?
- 2. Security and data protection: Who is responsible for security, data protection, and backups? What happens if something goes wrong?
- 3. Trust: How do I tell which services are reliable? Who guarantees data integrity and availability?
- 4. Data access and portability: Once I sign a contract, how much interoperability will I have? Can I interact with different services and move my data from one service provider to another?
Data control is the common denominator, and Europe must take steps to empower data controllers if it wants to maximize cloud adoption benefits. Those surveyed offer clear guidance on what the EU could do, including enacting specific rules on service provider accountability; guaranteeing application and data portability between services; implementing an EU-wide cloud security certification program; clarifying and harmonizing data residency and legal jurisdiction regulations; and fostering EU-wide standardization of cloud services.
These are great suggestions. But aside from regulatory policy changes that could take a long time to deliver, the group also states that demonstrated current success by peers and strong evidence of cloud benefits would greatly enhance adoption. A solution to these challenges that gives companies downstream flexibility is critical. This type of success is possible today with a cloud data protection gateway that allows European cloud users to control their data completely when using cloud SaaS applications – regardless of geographic location of the cloud service provider’s data centers. When researching gateways, keep the right questions about your data at top of mind:
- What sensitive data needs to remain private and protected?
- What level of protection is required?
- Who needs access to the data?
- What laws and jurisdiction govern information and are they likely to change over time?
Be sure to look for a solution that allows data controllers to configure their cloud systems with the appropriate data protection protocols that overcome the primary residency and security obstacles holding Europe back.
David Stott is senior director, product management, at PerspecSys where he leads efforts to ensure products and services meet market requirements.