An increased focus on security and data protection lies at the heart of the proposed European Commission strategy on cloud computing, according to EC vice-president for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.
However according to Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), the industry is already coming together in self-regulatory initiatives such as the recently launched UK code of practice for cloud service providers.
A cloud without robust data protection is not the sort of cloud we need, Kroes said in a speech last Thursday at the Les Assises du Numerique conference in Paris.
"These features should be well-integrated in the design of cloud-computing products and services, from the very beginning of the business processes," she said.
Burton said businesses are increasingly aware of the benefits that the cloud can bring.
"It is not just about cost reduction, it is about having the flexibility and agility to adapt your business to be more efficient, available and current," he said.
But for the cloud to become the commercial success those in the industry claim it to be, said Burton, there are a number of key issues suppliers need to address now regardless of possible future government regulation. so that they can provide confidence to customers about data security, transparency of contracts and prevent technical lock-in.
The goal of the Code of Practice is to address these end user concerns by improving accessibility to meaningful and consistent information about suppliers transparency, capability and accountability for the services they offer, he said.
Kroes called for the development of new laws and Codes of Practice, but the cloud computing industry is already one step ahead of the EC that respect, according to Burton.
"We would urge the EC to engage with those at the coal-face, such as the CIF and Eurocloud, and find out what is in fact going on at a national and industry level," he said.
Burton said while supporting the good intent of transnational policies and regulation to ensure a fair and ethical playing field, these take time to deliver and build credibility.
"Our industry-led initiative, open to governance by end users and independents, is a much more realistic and practical approach for the market at this time," he said.
Burton said the CIF will work with the UK government and the EC, but will not delay the essential work in providing clarity and comfort to end users through the requirements placed on service providers when participating in the code of practice's self-certification process.