European Commission tenders for first cloud services

The European Commission (EC) has put out a tender for a framework to acquire its first cloud services

The European Commission (EC) has put out a tender for a framework to acquire its first cloud services.

The tender was released by the Directorate-General for Informatics (Digit) at the European Commission and is expected to last two years and include around 2,500 virtual machines and 2,500TB of storage.

Around 75% of this framework will be available for European Union (EU) institutions other than the Commission, while the machines and storage available to the Commission would represent a maximum of about 15% of its current in-house capacity.

The tender states the framework will include up to five suppliers and have three lots: private cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS); public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS); and public cloud platform as a service (PaaS).

A spokesperson for the Commission told Computer Weekly that this tender is its first step on its “cloud journey” to explore the potential of services, with hopes to do more in the future if it proves successful.

“In this respect it is exploratory, in terms of the technical aspects of integrating cloud solutions into the Commission's environment,” said the spokesperson. “One of our learning objectives is indeed how the European Commission should evolve to make better use of the cloud market and the fast-evolving IT market in general, while remaining within legal boundaries.”

Lessons from G-Cloud

In beginning this “cloud journey” the Commission looked towards the UK’s G-Cloud framework, but the two institutions can’t be directly compared because they are so different and the scope of G-Cloud is so broad, providing a procurement channel for all UK administrations.

In addition, the EC has stricter rules on public procurement. While the UK’s G-Cloud marketplace is a database containing a list of services, this method of procurement is not valid in the European Commission, so the current tender is as close as it could get to a marketplace within its legal boundaries.

Cloud standards

In summer 2014, the Commission identified cloud computing as a key area to stimulate growth and create jobs in the region, but it also recognised that Europe needs a single cloud market, easy-to-understand policies and cloud standards to unleash the technology’s potential.

In June, the EC began testing a document detailing cloud guidelines which would help users save money and increase trust in cloud technology.

The guidelines, when fully implemented, will help cloud users ensure essential elements are included in plain language in contracts they make with cloud providers, the EC has said. The guidelines will explain, in simple terms, the availability and reliability of the cloud service, security levels, quality of support services from suppliers and data management in the cloud.

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