The future of cloud computing in Europe looks exceptionally bright. Not only are European countries investing heavily in their digital infrastructures, but public and private initiatives have been launched to fill the skills gap and accelerate the rate of cloud adoption.
In February this, Germany’s Chancellor —Angela Merkel—announced an ambitious project to modernize the nation’s broadband network with fiber optic cables, accelerate the provision of 5G connectivity, develop an artificial intelligence research center, and develop a comprehensive strategy for business to benefit from blockchain technology.
The project will be overseen by a newly created Digital Agency with the objective of covering the country with “gigabit speed internet networks” delivering 125MB/s by 2025. The German government is backing the project with $15 billion of investment—a figure that will be matched by the country´s telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom AG and Vodafone.
A similar government-funded project is already underway across the UK; while France, Italy, and Spain are nearing the completion of their National Broadband Plans before tackling the complexity of FTTH networks. Look further east and the stream of investment continues. The governments of Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania have committed to improving their digital infrastructures, while the government of Ukraine is ahead of its target to double spending on ICT research and development by 2020.
This level of investment in digital infrastructures is good news for the future of cloud computing in Europe. Faster and more reliable Internet connectivity benefits both businesses and customers; and, as businesses recognize the importance of the cloud for introducing new ways of working more efficiently and delivering a better standard of service to customers, more businesses are adopting the cloud.
According to the latest figures from Eurostat—the EU´s statistics agency—there has been a significant percentage growth in businesses migrating to the cloud. In the 2017 report “Cloud Computing—Statistics on the Use by Enterprises” the agency reported a 23% EU-wide growth in businesses migrating to the cloud, led by Malta (65%), Hungary (50%), Cyprus, (50%), Germany (45%) and the UK (45%).
Cloud Service Providers are responding to the increase in demand. Amazon and Microsoft both opened new data centers in France last year, Google announced this year it was investing €250 million to expand its Belgian data center and also purchased 173 acres of land in the Netherlands to build another data center, and Alibaba opened two data centers in London in October 2018.
In Global Knowledge´s 2018 “IT Skills and Salary Report” (registration required) more than 80% of respondents from North America reported that they either currently had difficulty recruiting cloud-experienced IT professionals or anticipated a skills shortage within the next two years. The three main consequences of the skills shortage were listed as increased stress on existing employees, difficulty meeting quality objectives, and delays in developing new products or services.
By comparison, the skills shortage in Europe is less than half the size. A European Commission survey in 2017 found fewer than 40% of businesses were experiencing difficulty recruiting cloud-experienced IT professionals. Nonetheless, the European Union has launched a Digital Skills and Jobs initiative with the objective of filling hundreds of thousands of IT vacancies through “Digital Opportunity Traineeships”. Dozens of projects are already underway to safeguard the future of cloud computing in Europe.
The private sector in the Europe is also helping to resolve the problem. Earlier this year, Amazon pledged to provide free training to 100,000 Europeans per year and launched the “AWS Institute” - a forum for European leaders to share and shape innovative ways to address business challenges through technology. Microsoft has also launched a Digital Skills initiative in Europe which aims to train up 30,000 Digital Apprentices by 2020, while Google has launched an EU-wide IT Scholarships Challenge.
With a faster and more reliable digital infrastructure, more European businesses are adopting the cloud. Cloud Service Providers are responding to the increase in demand by investing heavily in new and existing data centers, and public and private initiatives are underway to fill the skills gap. Taking these factors into account, the omens look good for the future of cloud computing in Europe.