CCIC12 Context

Cloud computing refers to a recent trend in Information Technology that moves computing and data away from desktops, portable PCs and mobile devices into large data centers. Cloud computing promises to streamline the on-demand provision of software, hardware, and data as a service, achieving economies of scale in the deployment and operation of IT solutions. It is believed that Cloud computing is not simply a technology evolution but will be a disruptive technology with profound implications not only for Internet services but also for the IT sector as a whole. The fundamental shift that Cloud computing represents, means that business and the public sector now have the opportunity to change how they run their organizations, how services are delivered, and how they scale an operation while increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.

As computing services start shifting from desktops into “the Cloud,” industry specialists believe that Cloud computing is becoming an unrivaled opportunity as an enabler and a facilitator of economic growth. Analysts' predictions indicate that, by 2014, the size of the emerging Cloud world-market will range from 40bn to 110bn Euros. However, besides the opportunities that Cloud technologies are expected to bring to the IT sector and the economy, a variety of technological, regulatory and business challenges need to be addressed: the cost-efficient and secure operation of data centers; interoperability and seamless integration of services; the protection of data and privacy; online safety of users and intellectual property protection; business models and the contracting of service offerings.

Consequently, several countries around the world are working on national strategies to develop their Cloud-services sector. Furthermore, the European Union has included Cloud Computing as a core topic in its Digital Agenda for 2020 and is expected to announce, in early 2012, a Cloud Computing strategy established around three axes: the legal framework, technical and commercial fundamentals, and the market. Industry experts and policy makers believe that a clear and flexible regulatory framework is a key prerequisite for the development of the Cloud sector and can become one of the main competitive advantages of a country in its effort to attract investments in the Cloud computing ecosystem. As Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission put it, "the right common rules could enhance Cloud development, but the wrong choices would cut off lots of potential uses and business offerings before they have even started." Clearly, the responsibility for addressing the Cloud regulatory challenges cannot rely only on government but would require input from the IT services industry, Cloud service innovators, Academia and Research, prospective Consumers and User Advocacy Groups.