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Cloud Computing Differences Between U.S. And Europe

The trans-Atlantic 451 Group has its eye on how cloud computing is developing in Europe and the rest of the world as well as the U.S.

Charles Babcock

April 12, 2010

3 Min Read

The trans-Atlantic 451 Group has its eye on how cloud computing is developing in Europe and the rest of the world as well as the U.S. The old adage that European IT lags the U.S. by a couple of years applies to cloud computing--more than that when it comes to infrastructure as a service.For example, The 451 Group's William Fellows in a "Cloud Outlook 2010" Webcast, says that 57% of spending on cloud computing is done in the U.S., 31% in Europe and 12% in Asia. But when it comes to the adoption of infrastructure as a service, the way to leap the furthest into cloud computing by using Amazon's EC2 or Rackspace, 93% of that spending is done in the U.S., 6% in Europe and 1% in Asia.

Several service providers are trying to get more cloud customers in Europe, he said, including Rackspace, Terremark and Savvis. But they have not established data centers there to serve their European customers, giving those with an interest in cloud computing a reason to delay signing up.

Ninety-nine percent of businesses in Europe are small and medium sized businesses, he added. They may be able to look to their telecommunications provider, of which there are many, for cloud services, if U.S. cloud service providers don't figure out the European market soon.

One obstacle to both sides is the U.S. Patriot Act, which gives the U.S. government a right to demand data if it defines conditions as being an emergency or necessary to homeland security, and a measure that contradicts that power when the data is of European origin, the European Union's Data Protection Directive. In 2006, the European Court of Justice ruled that an agreement negotiated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was too broadly construed and violated the EU's directive. The agreement was about sharing data on European airline passengers headed for the U.S. The data sought by the U.S. was too broadly construed and violated the EU's directive, the court said.

"Both measures could prevent establishing a cloud without borders," Fellows noted. Cloud advocates say services established via an Internet data center should be accessible by people around the world, and they are in the case of Google search or Facebook apps. But when it comes to sensitive data, national borders still prevail because of conflicting laws.

Since his Mar. 10 Web cast, troubles between Google's search engine in China and what the Chinese government will allow to be aired illustrates another national boundary shutting down the international operation of cloud computing. It may look formless, but in many instances, the cloud still has invisible national boundaries blocking the free flow of information.

Total spending on cloud services amounted to $500 million in 2009. It will amount to $13 billion by 2013, Fellows said in the Web cast.



InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on cloud computing and service-level agreements. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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