Cloud computing has a bright future in Europe

8 Jun 2010

The majority – 85pc – of Europe-headquartered public cloud computing providers are expecting their business to expand this year. However, to keep pace, cloud providers need to evaluate new technology to be more efficient.

IDC’s European Cloud Provider’s Technology Investment Survey indicated that cloud providers expected their business to expand and the majority (70pc) expected growth through demand from their local markets, with 30pc looking at new geographic opportunities.

The survey found there is a distinct difference in approach to technology between the smaller European cloud providers and the large global providers. European cloud providers are running infrastructures that are much closer to those of traditional enterprises than the global providers.

Open source has much higher use in European cloud providers than traditional enterprises, with 56pc of servers running Linux, 81pc of organisations standardising on Apache, or a mix of Apache and Microsoft’s IIS, and 69pc standardising on MySQL.

Reliability is highly prized in systems supporting public clouds, followed by price, supplier service capability, and energy efficiency.

Only one in five cloud providers is evaluating the scalable infrastructure propositions offered by systems vendors, but a large majority that have evaluated them (88pc) plan to standardise on them.

Converged infrastructure propositions (systems that combine storage, networking, and compute) are less attractive than scalable propositions, with 54pc of companies surveyed saying that converged infrastructure is not attractive to them.

Business models

“European cloud providers are thriving based on their strong relationships with their local customers,” said Chris Ingle, associate vice- president, Consulting, at IDC .

“Their business models are very similar to traditional IT vendors; the majority of providers we surveyed have relatively little flexibility in their pricing and service offer. To continue to be competitive in a market where customers are requiring more flexibility, and starting to get it from some suppliers, they will need to examine new business models,” Ingle added.

Looking at the technologies in use in cloud providers’ data centres, Thomas Meyer, vice president, Research, in IDC’s Systems and Infrastructure group, said: “It is a myth that cloud providers are running a substantially more efficient infrastructure than traditional enterprise data centres.

“To be cost competitive cloud providers need to work with their suppliers to evaluate new technologies and drive greater efficiency in their data centres,” Meyer said.

Managing operational cost is critical to an efficient data centre said Nathaniel Martinez, program director in IDC’s Systems and Infrastructure group: “Only 20pc of the CIOs who find the converged infrastructure proposition attractive do so because of reduced equipment cost.

“The majority are concerned with reducing power consumption and floor space use and increasing the flexibility of their infrastructure to scale to meet the demands of new users,” Martinez said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years