The European Union's recently announced plans to overhaul data protection legislation and create a Cloud Partnership, similar to the UKs G-Cloud Initiative, look to be good news for both users and providers of cloud computing services. Like the UK Government, which announced the first providers in its G-Cloud store this month, Ancoris among them, the EU is backing the use of public software-as-a-service solutions as the way forward for meeting public sector IT needs.
Making cloud solutions simpler and more secure
The EU is also looking to make using cloud solutions simpler and more secure for all users, including the private sector. EU Commissioners Neelie Kroes and Viviane Reding seemed to have grasped the fundamentals of cloud computing and have announced plans for a new legal environment that should make it simpler for cloud providers to offer solutions to users that support innovation and mobility while also providing security and data portability.
A new approach to data protection
At the heart of the Commissioners' plans is a new approach to data protection that means it will no longer matter where the data is or where the provider is based “ "in Madrid, Mumbai or Mountain View", as Commissioner Kroes put it in a recent speech. If the customer is based in the EU, EU data protection standards will apply.
That will give cloud providers the flexibility to locate operations for maximum resilience and minimum cost, while ensuring customers can be confident services meet EU security standards no matter how or where they access them. In short, says Commissioner Reding, cloud service providers will need to offer "privacy by design" as standard: the kind of true multi-tenanted solution you'll already find in Google Apps for Business, where security is built in from the ground up to allow secure access from the public internet to a single application or set of data.
Stronger safeguards against supplier lock-in
The two Commissioners have also announced that the EU's new approach will provide strong safeguards against supplier lock-in. Cloud service providers will have to make it easy and straightforward for users who want to switch services to get their data out “ something users of Google Apps for Business have been offered from the start.
While the proof is still in the pudding, and we'll need to see exactly what form the new regulations and the Cloud Partnership take, it's heartening to see the EU has a decent understanding of cloud computing and the current roadblocks to adoption.