The European cloud market has well and truly come of age. Like the market in the US, companies in the region have now taken the industry beyond the early adopter phase and into an era where cloud is transforming critical business processes.

This is not just conjecture; the numbers back it up. According to IDC, a third of global IT spending in 2015 will be dedicated to cloud computing. What is more, this spend is being driven, in no small part, by activity in EMEA. Western Europe, for example, is showing the fastest rate of growth in cloud spending with a rise of 32 per cent. So what are enterprises now demanding of cloud service providers in the region?

There has been a generational change in the security, performance and compliance of the cloud

That was then, this is now

Traditionally the large proportion of initial cloud deployments were used for test/development projects or new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. The cost efficiencies of this practice have always been clear but, while useful, these deployments did not tap into the full latent potential of the cloud. Now enterprise organisations in the region have made the most significant step – investing in cloud computing for their most critical production environments. Businesses are now allowing cloud computing to transform the way they work. So what has driven this change and allowed the region to move forward so rapidly?

A generational shift

There has been a generational change in the security, performance and compliance of the cloud, making it too valuable for enterprises to ignore. It is no longer a question of whether companies should adopt cloud, rather, a question of how quickly they are going to use it to drive business growth.   

The evolution of SAP as a company is a perfect indicator of this shift. The business software giant is shifting its focus to a “cloud first” approach, with the launch of S4/HANA leading the way. The message is clear. The enterprise is not just adopting cloud; it is demanding high performance cloud for critical production environments.   

Unlocking true potential

The cost-savings that come with operating in the cloud have never been in doubt, but it is the agility that cloud is now bringing organisations that is the real long-term benefit driving adoption.

Companies can now truly move at the speed of their business. Business pressures change on a daily basis and modern European businesses are realising the value of cloud services that can be scaled up or down in direct response to changing demand. The infrastructure deployment of large SAP implementations for example is no longer cost-prohibitive and we are seeing the large business software companies adapting to provide cloud implementations that match the agility requirements of the modern business.

With this increasingly sophisticated use of the cloud comes a greater scrutiny of the practices of cloud providers, as the market in EMEA is discovering. The data privacy and sovereignty debate that is in full flow across the region embodies this.

Home comforts

In the post-Snowden era…

In the post-Snowden era countries including Germany, Italy, Russia and even Brazil, have passed laws ensuring that citizens’ data must be stored within their country of residence, presenting an obstacle for many cloud service providers operating globally. As cloud becomes more pivotal to the European enterprise, these cloud providers will need to provide satisfactory answers to enterprise concerns over data privacy if they are to be classed as truly fit for purpose.

So what is a satisfactory response? The reality is, that companies throughout the region want their corporate data to be subject only to local laws. Merely storing data within a country will not be enough to assuage these concerns.

Data needs to be stored and managed by a national company, to eliminate the danger of judicial overreach from abroad. For a comprehensive approach cloud providers can operate within a service provider model. Working with national telecoms operators and systems integrators can ensure that data is held under the remit of national law. Dealing with the location of data is only half the solution, data ownership is the most pressing matter that cloud providers need to address in EMEA as the debate evolves.

The face of the cloud in EMEA is changing at a rate of knots; if businesses fail to adapt, they risk being left behind.

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