On a Global Scale, Cloud Computing Policy Makes 'Patchy Progress'


On a Global Scale, Cloud Computing Policy Makes 'Patchy Progress'

By Erin Harrison

While many countries are making strides in improving cloud-computing policy, an uneven pace puts the economic potential of cloud at risk, according to a new industry study.

Some of the world’s biggest IT markets have stalled or slid backwards, yet others are embracing laws and regulations conducive to cloud innovation, according to the Business Software Alliance’s “2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard,” a report that tracks changes in the global policy landscape for cloud computing.

The study revealed “patchy progress” in the policy landscape for cloud computing, according to BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman.

“Mismatched privacy and security rules are making it hard for data to flow across borders. Too many countries are chopping off pieces of the cloud for themselves,” Holleyman said in a statement. “This undercuts economies of scale that can benefit everyone. To have a cohesive global marketplace, we need more bridges and fewer barriers.”

The scorecard also found that policy fragmentation persists, as some countries, aiming to promote local cloud markets, adopt laws and regulations that inhibit cross-border data flows or skew international competition.

The 2013 study finds that Japan continues to lead the global rankings with a comprehensive suite of laws supporting digital commerce. Australia remains in second place, and the U.S. has edged into third, pushing Germany down to fourth.

In the past 12 months, the biggest mover in the rankings is Singapore, which jumped from tenth to fifth place by adopting a new privacy law that recognizes people’s right to protect their personal information and companies’ need to use data for reasonable purposes. By contrast, the six European Union countries covered in the study have lost ground in the rankings, stalling against the backdrop of ongoing debates over privacy laws.

Other major points from the study’s findings include the following:

  • Malaysia crossed the divide between mature and developing economies by bolstering cybercrime and IP laws and opening itself for increased digital trade;
  • Canada, Russia and India all moved up the rankings by implementing international IP agreements; and
  • Indonesia and Vietnam are among the countries tying up foreign cloud providers in red tape, imposing data-location requirements, or restricting the flow of data across borders.

“In the global economy, companies should be able to do business wherever they find a market – and customers should have access to the best the world has to offer,” Holleyman added. “Everyone’s policies affect the global cloud marketplace. We don’t need identical laws across every country, but they all should promote good data stewardship while enabling business innovation in a fast-moving marketplace.”

The study evaluates countries in seven policy areas critical to the market for cloud computing services – data privacy, cybersecurity, cybercrime, intellectual property, technology interoperability and legal harmonization, free trade and ICT infrastructure.

BSA has proposed an updated, seven-point policy blueprint for governments around the world that aims to create an environment conducive to cloud growth and innovation, which includes ensuring privacy, promoting security, ensuring data portability and harmonizing global rules and promoting free trade.

In related news, global public cloud services are predicted to jump 18.5 percent in 2013 to total $131 billion – a steep jump compared to $111 billion in 2012, according to Gartner.

In the latest projection, Gartner says Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), including cloud compute, storage and print services, is the fastest-growing segment; it jumped 42.4 percent in 2012 to $6.1 billion and is predicted to increase 47.3 percent in 2013 to $9 billion, MSP Today reported.

The Gartner study also showed that cloud advertising is the biggest segment of the cloud services market. It was 48 percent of the market in 2012, and between 2013 and 2016, $677 billion will be spent on cloud services worldwide – $310 billion of which will be spent on cloud advertising, Gartner reports.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

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