The European Commission is optimistic about the future of cloud computing in the region and predicts it will not only save on data storage costs, but create new jobs and boost GDP.

The European Union’s cloud computing strategy was finally unveiled last week and is expected to boost GDP by around AUD$200 million (about 1 per cent) and create almost four million jobs in just under a decade.

This is the first concerted effort by the EU to increase the popularity of cloud computing among businesses. Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said if the EU doesn’t take united action, they will continue to miss out on the major profits to be made by using cloud computing. At present, only about a quarter of European computer users access cloud applications and are lagging behind worldwide levels by about 10 per cent. The value of the cloud computing market is expected to more than double and be worth just over AUD$70 billion by 2015.

Kroes estimates the cloud will save most businesses – particularly small ones – up to 20 per cent in operating costs. So why is cloud computing still less popular in Europe than the rest of the world?

Trust is a major factor. Cloud services in Europe are mostly localised rather than regional and even though EU legislation protects cloud users, most are unaware of their rights. Cloud computing growth in Europe has been stunted as users are unclear on which jurisdiction they fall under, where their data is located and how safe it is. To help clear up confusion, the EC plans to introduce standards and a certification scheme for a single digital market by 2013. This will increase transparency and hopefully build users confidence in storing data across, and beyond, European borders.

Do you operate a business in Europe and use cloud services? If not, will these changes encourage you to move some of your business to the cloud, or do they not go far enough? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.