Less than a quarter of European computer users say they use cloud services, even though cloud computing is amongst the fastest-growing segments in the global technology market, a new survey shows.
In a survey of nearly 4,000 people, the nonprofit trade association Business Software Alliance (BSA) has found that only 24% of the respondents access cloud applications, such as online email services or online word processing.
Globally, that number is 34%.
A majority of European computer users also say that they are unfamiliar with cloud computing and 65% have "never heard of it" or only "heard the name".
Cloud computing enables data to be stored on off-site servers, enabling corporate computer systems to operate more smoothly.
Commenting on the survey, BSA President Robert Holleyman said that cloud computing will create enormous benefits for the European economy.
It will allow governments, enterprises and consumers to tap into high-calibre software and IT resources more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before.
"Unfortunately, most computer users in the EU have little understanding of cloud computing and have not yet moved to capitalise on the opportunities cloud computing offers," Holleyman said.
The survey also found that familiarity with cloud computing varies significantly across the European single market.
Twenty-eight percent of personal computer users in the UK and 24% in Greece report high levels of familiarity as opposed to 9% and 10% in Poland and France, respectively.
Perhaps surprisingly, use of cloud computing is highest in Greece and Romania (39%) which is significantly above both the EU and global averages.
Eighty-six percent of cloud users across Europe report tapping into cloud applications for personal use. Only 29% say they use the cloud for business purposes, lagging slightly behind cloud users globally at 33%.
The most commonly used cloud applications in Europe are email (79%), online word processing (36%) and photo storage and online games (35%).
Commission to publish cloud computing strategy
In the autumn, the European Commission is scheduled to release its Cloud Computing Strategy for the European Union as a first step towards stimulating use and growth of cloud computing in the single market.
In July, EURACTIV reported that the European Commission wants to promote the use of off-site data storage in a bid to cut information technology costs and create new jobs.
The Commission is planning to address several aspects of the cloud computing regulatory framework to encourage its use by companies and public administrators, as well as encouraging member states to embrace the potential of cloud computing.
BSA is encouraging policymakers to take a broad, global approach to cloud policy to ensure that European users and cloud providers can enjoy the full benefits of the growth of cloud computing worldwide.
“Cloud computing is all about scale,” Holleyman said.
"To reap the full benefits, Europe needs a cohesive digital single market that is globally integrated to ensure that computer users in the EU can choose freely among the best cloud services on offer, and that cloud providers can exploit growth opportunities in the world's fastest-growing emerging markets outside Europe," he said.
Cloud computing describes a whole range of infrastructure, software, data or applications residing in the cloud – that is to say, off your own premises and accessed via the Internet.
A study carried out by the University of Milan, published in late 2010, estimated that cloud computing has the potential to create 1.5 million new jobs in Europe over the next five years. The sector's turnover worldwide in 2010 was estimated at around €26.7 billion.
While businesses and governments wax lyrical about the benefits of cloud computing, EU regulators have been more wary, as further use of cloud systems would mean a large swathe of public and commercial data would migrate to servers possibly located outside national borders or even on other continents.
- Autumn 2012: European Commission releases its strategy on cloud computing.
- European Commission: Report on future of cloud (2010)
- European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA): Report on cloud risks (2009)
NGOs & Think tanks
- Business Software Alliance: European Take Up of Cloud Computing Lags Global Average, BSA Survey Finds
EURACTIV Czech Republic: Evropa musí ve využívání cloudových technologií zabrat, ukázala studie
EURACTIV Slovakia: Cloud computing využíva len štvrtina po?íta?ových užívate?ov