|By Roger Strukhoff||
|January 18, 2011 08:32 AM EST||
To make a long story short, the EU is serious about adopting Cloud Computing within its governmental structures. A recent report from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), based in Greece, takes dead aim at the opportunities and challenges inherent in several types of cloud adoption.
Topping the list of benefits is the idea of saving as much as 90% on raw infrastructure costs over the long term; this pre-supposes an ideal world in which IT infrastructure redundancies across agencies are eliminated along with the higher efficiencies of instituting cloud computing.
But price can also be seen as a byproduct of greater cooperation and efficiencies, and better services offered by Cloud Computing. The report warns of the potential of malicious attacks, cascading failures, and short-term thinking.
This is a long report, running more than 40,000 words. It was written for an audience of high-level IT managers in the EU, yet its insights are applicable throughout the world. Indeed, its contributors included people from the US and Japan, and it takes its inspiration from the office of US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, quoting as follows: "...cloud computing has the potential to greatly reduce waste, increase data centre efficiency and utilization rates, and lower operating costs..."
The report looks at private, community, and public approaches to building cloud infrastructures, and builds hypothetical case studies for a variety of government agencies. It takes a pan-EU view, with much discussion of "supra-national" websites, services, and infrastructures.
The report comes out strongly in favor of a move by EU governmental agencies to Cloud Computing, noting "it is not unrealistic to assume that Cloud Computing, in all its possible implementations, will serve, in the near future, a significant portion of European Union citizens, small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations."
It recommends that "national governments and European Union institutions further investigate the concept of a European Governmental cloud as a supra national virtual space, where a consistent and harmonized set of rules could be applied, both in terms of legislation and security policy, and where interoperability and standardization could be fostered." It also touts the potential of such structures to be valuable for pan-European mutual aid and emergency assistance plans.
Two big questions loom in this report:
"Is it realistic for governments to plan and deploy governmental clouds using currently available technology?"
"What are the main open issues that have to be addressed in terms of security and resilience before government clouds can be deployed operationally?"
As I read through the material and become more familiar with it, I'll report in on how ENISA views the specific advantages and deficiencies of various Cloud Computing approaches; I'm also seeking feedback from its authors on several points.
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