The potential of cloud computing in Europe has to be harnessed

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Cloud computing
by Felice Lucia

The so-called "cloud computing" (cloud computing) in a nutshell, can be understood as the storage, processing and use of data on remote computers and access the Internet. In other words, users have access to a virtually unlimited processing power , are not required to invest large amounts of capital to meet their needs and can access their data anywhere you have an Internet connection. Cloud computing has all the numbers to bring down the costs for the users of technology services and to open the doors to the development of many new services. Through the use of cloud computing, even the smallest businesses can access larger markets , while governments can make their services more attractive containing costs . Any person accessing , from anywhere in the world , the information on the world wide web, it also has available processing power provided by cloud computing.

As the web , cloud computing is a technology that is likely to develop gradually over time , and currently , it is still in its infancy , which gives Europe an opportunity to be a leader in its development and to capitalize on both the demand and on the supply , thanks to the spread of the use and provision of cloud .
The cloud computing presents a number of specific features (which makes it hard to articulate a general definition ) , namely:
• the hardware ( computers, devices for storing data ) is owned by the provider of cloud computing services , not the user who interacts with him via the Internet;
• the use of the hardware is optimized in a dynamic manner within a computer network to ensure that the exact location of data or processes and information about which part of the hardware actually serves to a given user at a given time in principle should not be relevant to the user, but could have an important implication for the applicable legal framework .
• providers of cloud computing services often move data of their users (eg . From one computer to another or from one data center to another) to optimize the use of available hardware ;
• The remote hardware stores and processes the data and makes them available , eg . by applications ( in order to allow a company to use its cloud-based electronic content in the same manner in which consumers already use their webmail box ) ;
• organizations and individual users can access their content and use their software when and where you want , eg . desktop computers ( Desktop ) , laptops, tablets and smartphones ;
• Cloud computing is composed of several elements : hardware , middleware ( or platform) and application software. Standardisation is important especially for the intermediate element , as it allows developers to reach a large number of potential customers and offers a choice to customers;
• normally users pay according to use , avoiding the fixed costs and down payments needed to configure and manage a complex computer equipment ;
• At the same time it is very easy for users to change the volume of the hardware used (eg . Putting extra storage capacity online in a matter of seconds and with a few clicks ) .
Consumers can take advantage of cloud services to store information (eg . Photo or e-mail) and for use of the software (eg . Social networking , video and music streaming, games) . Organizations , including the government , can make use of cloud services gradually replacing the internal departments that manage data centers and technologies of information and communication technologies ( ICT). Businesses can take advantage of cloud services to rapidly test and increase their offer to customers because it does not require to invest in physical infrastructure, or to create them . In general, cloud computing is a further industrialization ( standardization , dissemination through economies of scale , high availability ) for the provision of computing power ( " computer utilities" ) exactly as they industrialized the power supply of the electric current . Through standardized interfaces ( the equivalent of the electrical plugs ) users can entrust some aspects ( how to configure , food, manage and secure data center ) experts who get economies of scale much more effectively (managing a plurality of users ) than to the extent possible at the individual level . In addition, cloud services allow large economies of scale , as with the individual efforts at the national level is unlikely to reach an optimal level of efficiency in terms of cost . The benefits of cloud computing have been highlighted , for example, from a survey carried out by the Commission in 2011, which shows that following the adoption of cloud computing 80% of organizations have reduced their costs by 10-20% . Other benefits for businesses are a stronger labor mobility (46%) , increased productivity ( 41%), greater standardization ( 35%), more entrepreneurial opportunities ( 33%) and increase of the market (32 %). Although all the economic studies carried out in the field confirm the importance of cloud computing and provide for rapid global growth of this technology.
The exceptional increase in the data flow and processing of information on the Internet has a significant environmental impact in terms of energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions , cloud computing can help alleviate these problems thanks to a more efficient hardware and , more specifically, through the creation of data centers with low power consumption and server powered by green energy. For example, according to some estimates , thanks to cloud computing large U.S. companies could achieve an energy saving of 12.3 billion dollars a year.
Therefore, the adoption of cloud by enterprises and other organizations, especially SMEs, in all probability lead to a strong improvement of the efficiency in the global economy . The cloud computing could play a particularly important role to ensure that small businesses struggling economies or in remote and rural regions have access to the markets of the most dynamic regions . For example, through the use of broadband infrastructure designed to overcome the " tyranny of the geographical distances ," all operators, from high-tech start-ups to small traders or artisans , they could take advantage of the cloud to access distant markets . This paves the way for new opportunities for economic development in each region in which you gather ideas , talent and infrastructure in broadband high speed . In addition, the cloud could create new jobs for ICT professionals , otherwise inclined to accept lower skilled jobs , thus bringing jobs and money flows in the most disadvantaged regions . Many of the products and services of a local nature apparently could reach a global dimension , increase the presence on the Internet (and be more easily found through online search engines ) , and in particular in the case of collaborations between small businesses, to reach the critical mass needed to negotiate favorable terms with major trading partners (eg . supply / transport , tour operators and financial firms ) . Even public authorities could draw substantial benefits from the use of the cloud, both in terms of efficiency, both more flexible services geared towards the needs of citizens and businesses. The most immediate savings would be given by the IT costs more content data by a reduction in capital expenditures and operating as well as an increase in the level of hardware utilization , which is currently in the public sector infrastructure can be as low as 10% 10 . Additional benefits may result from the reorganization of processes thanks to cheaper and more frequent updates and from the perspective of infrastructure sharing between agencies.
Beyond a mere reduction of costs , cloud computing can help to make the transition to a public service in the 21st century , interoperable , scalable and in line with the needs of a population and mobile businesses who want to benefit from the European Digital Single Market . The first steps would be given to a better functioning of the services , such as enhanced security, services oriented to the needs of the customer, the ability to develop new services at low prices in a fast and flexible , relatively easy to use cloud computing to create a platform for social engagement or for specific campaigns and the ability to better control the results. In addition, over the next decade cloud computing could help to achieve the great goal of making digital accessible to all Europeans, allowing them to benefit fully from the public service without having to deal with an excess of bureaucracy .

Ultimately , cloud computing could help to reduce public spending and increase the collective benefits , while providing a broader base for economic activities involving the entire population.

source:  COMUNICAZIONE DELLA COMMISSIONE AL PARLAMENTO EUROPEO, AL CONSIGLIO, AL COMITATO ECONOMICO E SOCIALE EUROPEO E AL COMITATO DELLE REGIONI  - Sfruttare il potenziale del cloud computing in Europa,  Bruxelles, 27.9.2012 COM(2012) 529 final



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