How do we build a European cloud ecosystem that is fair and inclusive, rewards innovation and supports sustainability? This was the challenge at the heart of the first CISPE Cloud Summit, held in Brussels on March 22, which gathered some 70 cloud industry leaders, as well as top European Commission officials and representatives of the European Parliament.
Pearse O’Donohue, the Commission’s Director of Future Networks, opened the summit by highlighting how the proposed EU’s Data Act will support interoperability and switching between cloud services providers. With consumers becoming more sophisticated he warned that the fear of being locked into one service was putting off Europeans from taking up cloud services.
Fair competition in Europe’s cloud sector was one of the summit’s most hotly debated issues. Renowned Competition expert Professor Frédéric Jenny presented preliminary findings of a new impact study looking at the effects of monopolistic practices by gatekeeper cloud providers. By contrast, CISPE’s own Fair Software Licensing Principles are designed to ensure open competition and choice are at the heart of European cloud infrastructure.
New rules on portability, privacy, electronic identities and data spaces were identified as the future building blocks for a successful European cloud and data economy. The Commission’s Head of Unit for Cloud and Software Pierre Chastanet said there is an untapped market potential for customers seeking more tailored cloud services, while other speakers said there is space for Europe’s cloud providers to develop offerings that complement global providers.
The summit also saw the launch of a major CISPE initiative that is expected to provide new opportunities for cloud infrastructure service providers to comply with the EU Data Act’s expected data portability rules. The initiative will allow both customers and vendors to benefit from the Act faster and more effectively, as well as from Gaia-X’sfederated cloud services catalogue and labelling schemes. As Francesco Bonfiglio, Gaia-X’s CEO, said, “The Cloud Market needs transparency, interoperability and accountability. That is the foundation of Gaia-X.”
With energy use now a broader EU policy priority, the Carbon Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP), which CISPE co-founded with the EU Data Centre Association (EUDCA), is helping the tech sector reduce its carbon footprint. The summit discussed concrete steps that the pact’s members have taken to make their infrastructure climate neutral by 2030: CNDCP members have committed to sustainability goals covering energy efficiency, use of green power, water use, recycling and reuse of waste heat. Commission Director General for Energy Ditte Juul Jørgensen recognized the importance of the CNDCP in leading industry efforts, and the need for policymakers and industry to work together to reach the pact’s goals.
The CNDCP also announced that two major data centre operators in Europe, CyrusOne and Aruba, have successfully passed the stringent targets for its audit of environmental performance and sustainability goals, in another sign that the pact’s signatories are leading the charge to climate neutrality.
If the cloud sector is to be more open and sustainable, it must become more diverse. With women making up just 14 percent of the cloud sector workforce, how can they raise their numbers? “We need to promote public-private partnerships regarding digital skills,” Alexandra Paul from the Commission’s DG CONNECT told the session on women in the cloud sector. “This may be a way to target the gender gap going forward, as only one in two women have digital skills.” In the coming months, CISPE will continue to address the gender imbalance through our own Women in Cloud initiative.
The CISPE Cloud Summit was not all about debates on policies and business: after the sessions ended, participants enjoyed a networking drink. And as for us, we finished the day with a fresh set of ideas about how to build a more competitive, fair and sustainable cloud sector in Europe.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s summit!