In November, I attended the Cloud Expo Europe, which was held in Frankfurt last year. Alongside the latest developments in technology, this large-scale event also focused on current hot topics such as security, privacy and European collaboration. In these times of terrorism and the refugee crisis, collaboration throughout Europe is more important than ever, and not only collaboration in the physical sense but also in the digital world.
It isn't that long ago that Dutch companies were suddenly in uproar due to the Safe Harbor Act, which was revoked by the European Court of Justice. This decision basically pronounced that the privacy-sensitive data of the Dutch would no longer be safe in American data centres. At the Cloud Expo, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion to talk about cloud security. Although the main topic of this panel discussion was how to implement security in the cloud, it was particularly noticeable how many questions there were about the abolition of the Safe Harbor Act. What is the best way to deal with this? My answer to the question of how to prevent your data from ending up in the US was as follows: "Make sure you use a cloud provider that does not have any ties to US branches or is even in any way part of such a party. Opt for a European hosting company with sites in Europe." This may sound like preaching to the choir but it is the only way to be sure of what you're getting into.
Strong European ties
We have noticed an ever-growing divide between Europe and the US when it comes to security. As a consequence, ties are being strengthened within Europe, not least between the Netherlands and Germany. I have noticed an increasing number of collaborations being set up between Dutch and German cloud providers. The reason is that data centres in the Netherlands are often cheaper due to relatively low energy costs and in Germany, economies of scale can be achieved resulting in a price advantage. Furthermore, our two countries use one another's internet exchanges as fallback, further promoting cooperation in the area of cloud services. I expect this interaction between the Netherlands and Germany to continue growing in strength in the coming years.
SMEs and the growth of cloud computing
The cloud business is still on the rise, which is beneficial to the Netherlands as a digital gateway to Europe. Because alongside Schiphol airport and Rotterdam port, our digital sector has grown to become the third largest mainport of the Netherlands; a position which will undoubtedly improve further over the next decade.
In its Worldwide Cloud 2016 Predictions, the research company IDC expects companies to be spending at least half of its IT budget on cloud-based services in 2018. They estimate this figure to rise to 60% by 2020 for all infrastructure and to between 60% and 70% of all expenditure for software, services and technology. These are huge figures. In addition, small and medium businesses in the Netherlands are leading the way in cloud adoption, which, according to the latest figures from Statistics Netherlands, represents 60% of the GNP. Looking ahead, I think it would be good for us to join forces in Europe to capture this target group for ourselves. We would need to position ourselves as a network of reliable clouds that can guarantee the secure storage of personal data and not try to subject confidential communications to surveillance. This would enable us to differentiate ourselves in the area of security and privacy and become a real international 'safe harbor' for data with a network of safe clouds. This will make a significant contribution to our economy, in which the digital sector will become a driving force. I think this is a fantastic objective for this year and with this I would like to wish you a very happy and successful 2016.