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European businesses 'behind on cloud adoption'
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European businesses are falling behind their North American counterparts where the adoption of cloud computing is concerned, it has been claimed.
While European firms recognise the value hosted services can offer, Gartner believes the continent is now roughly two years behind the US on cloud uptake.
The IT analyst identified a number of inhibitors to cloud adoption on the continent, the first of which is diverse and changing data privacy regulations.
Gartner said moving personal data to the cloud, protecting it adequately and complying with privacy laws are problems that have been "classic cloud inhibitors".
Although these can now be solved, some firms are still concerned about who has access to their information and where it is being stored.
Complex business-to-business multi-enterprise integration and processes have also held cloud adoption back in Europe, Gartner stated.
It said the continent's diversity issues are compounded when it comes to running very common and intrinsically multi-enterprise processes across different countries.
"Frequently, regulations and business practices in one country are incompatible or undesirable in another, because each country typically extends its pre-existing legislation," the firm stated.
"In a fast growing new market such as cloud computing, diversity makes achieving the required critical mass more difficult and significantly slows down the execution of players wanting to offer cloud services throughout Europe."
Another hindrance is the slowness and undesired effects of certain EU policies, with each state having a sovereign power to add local legislation to whatever policy or regulation is agreed at union level.
Gartner said there are "plenty of examples of this sort of delay", with e-invoicing being one of the most recent, and the use of cloud likely to be the next.
Last but not least, an investment hold caused by the ongoing eurozone crisis may be dissuading some firms from modernising their IT service delivery.
"This is slowing down strategic and game changing decision making," Gartner suggested.
Paolo Malinverno, vice-president at Gartner, said "the opportunities for cloud computing value are valid all over the world, and the same is true for some of the risks and costs".
"However, some of cloud computing’s potential risks and costs, namely security, transparency and integration, which are generally applicable worldwide, take on a different meaning in Europe," he added.
"The bottom line is that the interest in cloud is as high in Europe as it is elsewhere in the world" said David Mitchell Smith, vice president at Gartner.
"While these inhibitors will certainly slow down cloud adoption in Europe, they will not stop it," he claimed.
Mr Mitchell Smith said the potential benefits of cloud are "too attractive" and the interest in its efficiency and agility are "too strong" to stall it for long.
Posted by Stephen Wilkinson
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