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More user control and freedom from lock-in will make cloud successful: Werner Vogels

Archana Venkatraman

Giving customers more power and control, freeing them from supplier lock-in, and “democratising the technology” will ensure cloud’s success in Europe, according to Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels.

“Democratising” the cloud means everyone has access to the same technology and it will not be a privilege of just the world’s largest companies.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels relaxes at a cloud conference

“Many of the elements needed for cloud computing to be successful in the region focus on values that are core to all of us as Europeans,” said Vogels

One core European value is to put customers' needs at the centre and giving users more control.“This means they have the freedom to walk away at any time if they don’t get the service that they expect. They also have the freedom to use as much or as little of the cloud services they want.”

“For too long customers have been locked in to long term service contracts, costly capital outlays that require frequent equipment upgrades, and expensive software licensing fees from ‘old guard’ technology suppliers.”

The CTO’s words come as cloud enters mainstream computing. A KPMG report termed cloud the most disruptive force affecting enterprises while research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimated the cumulative economic effect of cloud computing between 2010 and 2015, in the five largest European economies alone, at around €763bn. Analyst firm IDC said cloud could generate nearly €1tn in GDP and four million jobs by 2020.

The change driven by cloud computing is so significant, many of Europe’s policy-makers are debating the best policy approaches to enable broad success with cloud computing across the continent, Vogels said.

European Cloud Partnership

For instance, the European Commission (EC) has set up an initiative called European Cloud Partnership (ECP) to bring together cloud users, both private and public sector, suppliers, and policy-makers to establish best practices for cloud computing in Europe. AWS is a member of ECP.

“European customers were among the first to adopt AWS cloud technologies when we launched in 2006,” he said. 

He pointed out how European start-ups such as Spotify and JustEat, as well as oldest large enterprises such as BP, Unilever, Royal Dutch Shell and Schneider Electric and government institutions, are using cloud services to “innovate faster and better serve their customers and the citizens of Europe”.

“We have heard calls in some corners to develop a cloud computing framework in Europe to protect the interests of ‘old guard’ technology suppliers and the way that IT 'used to be' procured leading to the same expensive contracts, just disguised as cloud," he said.

“This goes against the ethos of the ECP’s focus, that cloud computing should serve the customers and citizens of Europe, not shareholders of technology companies.”

Vogels explained how lowering cloud prices will lower the entry barriers and encourage innovation, enabling more companies to adopt the cloud. His words came as a price war between public cloud providers intensified – a trend that has been discounted by managed cloud providers such as Rackspace.

Another core European value is data protection and he called for suppliers to put data protection, ownership, and control, in the hands of cloud users.

“For cloud to succeed, and realise its potential, it is essential that customers own and control their data at all times,” Vogels said.


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