by Dr Tobias Höllwarth, President of EuroCloud Europe, Director, StarAudit Programme, and Head, European network of IT lawyers.

Industry View from

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Cloud benefits still massively underestimated

The cloud provides businesses with immense benefits in terms of growth and competition that are still frequently underestimated or not recognised at all.

 

The economies of most countries consist primarily of small and medium enterprises. Nearly all European businesses – 99.9 per cent – have fewer than 250 employees, and 92 per cent have fewer than ten. This means that the affluence of our continent depends on relatively small businesses that together need to be able to provide sufficient value creation, tax revenues and jobs to sustain our way of life.

 

Cloud services are part of a technological revolution that has already changed many aspects of our life and will continue to do so in the future: the ways in which we produce, distribute, own, and communicate. Complex and extensive IT services have become a key production resource for companies. Even more importantly, this relevant operative production resource is no longer available only to large enterprises with ample capital. Instead, the cloud allows all types of businesses, even small start-ups, to gain access to this production factor with practically unlimited availability quickly and easily. This changes competition fundamentally and allows even small and medium-sized enterprises to become significant competitors in many sectors of the economy.

 

In short, the cloud provides businesses with massive benefits in terms of growth and competition that are still frequently being underestimated or not recognised at all. 

 

Businesses not prepared

 

Businesses are still not adequately prepared for the cloud. SMEs in particular generally lack access to sufficient human resources.

 

The cloud business is currently being dominated by a scant few very influential global players, who offer excellent services but are able to command the market as oligopolists. SMEs generally do not have access to sufficient human resources to tackle the massive challenges related to the introduction and use of complex new technologies. But if we allow small and medium-sized enterprises to be excluded from fundamental technological developments, then we must also be aware that this choice will have a huge effect on our prosperity.

 

The various challenges the cloud revolution entails affect the selection process for cloud services as well as their integration and operation. The hurdles on the path to effective service management in a heterogeneous multi-provider environment require not only IT security specialists but also know-how in the areas of legal compliance, data privacy, data centre operation, the quality of operative processes, and many more.

 

The long-predicted lack of specialists is now becoming a reality and a stumbling block for development and economic growth. Educational systems have not yet been appropriately adapted, and a uniform European fiscal and regulatory framework is likewise still missing. Nevertheless, as a European, one can at least proudly say that the European General Data Protection Regulation represents a fundamental milestone on the road to a sensible order for the digital transformation. The GDPR is “Europe at its finest”.  

 

Which is the right cloud service for a business?

 

How can businesses determine the ideal cloud service? Answering the question: “which is the best cloud service provider?” is not only a difficult task, but also a very individual process that depends heavily on the specific use case within an organisation. 

 

Aside from offering compelling services at attractive commercial conditions, a good cloud provider is characterised by maximum transparency in all relevant areas relating to the provision of its services.

 

Transparency concerning the type and quality of the service provision, the involved partners, and the safeguarding measures relating to high-availability operation, security, data privacy, and legal compliance must be documented and communicated in great detail by a truly sound cloud provider. Such documentation establishes trust.

 

To simply produce an ISO certificate and attempt to pass it off as proof that all necessary evidence has been provided transparently and in a trustworthy manner can almost be viewed as the exact opposite and as constituting intentional deception of the customer.

 

The free-of-charge StarAudit model provided by EuroCloud Europe is an extremely cost-efficient way for cloud providers and cloud customers to establish trust quickly and effectively. EuroCloud Europe is a completely independent, vendor-neutral and not-for-profit European organisation that offers its StarAudit model on a global basis.

 


 

I strongly recommend taking a look at the website staraudit.org and testing the free cloud quality assessment tool at assessment.staraudit.org.

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