European privacy rules, multi-country business processes, the euro crisis and a lingering recession will conspire to delay Cloud computing adoption in Europe by at least two years when compared to the US, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner considers that although interest in the Cloud is high in Europe, the diversity of Europe's 44 different nations will result in slow Cloud adoption in this region. Gartner has identified four main inhibitors for Cloud in Europe over the next few years:
Diverse (and changing) data privacy regulations
Moving personal data to the Cloud, protecting it adequately and complying with privacy laws are problems that have been classic Cloud inhibitors, but they can be solved. For example, companies in Europe frequently express their concern that the existence of the US Patriot Act of 2001 makes it undesirable or even illegal for them to use cloud service providers that are located or incorporated in the US (where the majority of them are) – on the basis that US entities might, under some circumstances, be able to 'look into their data'. The bottom line for European companies is that in spite of a great deal of inaccurate information, and single countries pushing nationalistic Cloud agendas, there are ways of using Cloud more safely. While it is true that international regulations such as the Patriot Act will allow law enforcement authorities to access personal information hosted by third parties – in cases of terrorism or severe crime, or to protect national security – agreements like these are in place between several countries (for example, the UK's Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act) rather than just the US, and any legal entity will have to abide by them.
Complex B2B multi-enterprise integration and processes
Europe's diversity issues are compounded when it gets 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. European B2B infrastructure providers have turned this complexity, and their ability to address it, into a business opportunity and a competitive advantage. 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.
The slowness and undesired effects of some EU policies
The EU was established to promote economic and social progress and to achieve balanced and sustainable development, through the creation of a group of member states without internal barriers. The EU goes about achieving this aim by setting policies and regulations which are subsequently worked into the legislation of each member state. The whole process can take considerable time, especially as each member state has the sovereign power to add local legislation to whatever policy or regulation is agreed at EU level. Gartner analysts believe there are plenty of examples of this sort of delay: e-invoicing being one of the most recent, and the use of Cloud likely to be the next.
The investment hold caused by the euro crisis
The continuing economic crisis within the countries using the single European currency has deep IT implications, because increasing uncertainty about the euro is causing major investments to be put on hold. This is slowing down strategic and game changing decision making. This inhibitor might not weigh as much as the previous three, but it is certainly a factor worthy of consideration.