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First EU cloud software set to go airborne

  • The EU's first cloud computing software is set to go online. (Photo: Jonathas Rodrigues)

The EU's first cloud computing project is ready for use, according to a statement on Tuesday (May 1st) by the EU-funded Optimis project. The scheme will make its first cloud software available from 1 June to be downloaded from the Optimis website.

The Optimis programme has been developed by IT-company Atos in conjunction with software experts from a string of European universities. Developers say it will allow online service providers and businesses the opportunity to build and run their own tailor-made cloud applications. In an attempt to take account of the European Commission's plans to re-write online data protection rules, Optimis technicians say that the software covers data protection requirements.

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Csilla Zsigri, Optimis spokesman, said that the cloud technology programme would "stimulate new research and innovation, and the creation of pan-European partnerships to create better cloud environments and give European businesses, especially SMBs, a platform on which to innovate with new products and services."

Optimis was launched in June 2010 and supported by €10.5 million of EU funds. It is one of a series of pilot projects that form part of the EU cloud computing strategy. The strategy is being led by digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes in a bid to close the gap between the EU and US cloud markets.

In February, Kroes launched a separate €10 million pilot project between public sector organisations and the IT industry with a view to putting together common EU-rules for cloud procurement.

The EU executive body sees wide-use of cloud technology as a route to economic growth by slashing the administrative and data transfer costs faced by businesses. During her speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this January - at which she unveiled the cloud procurement pilot - she insisted that cloud technology would "promise scalable, secure services for greater efficiency, greater flexibility, and lower cost."

The global market for cloud computing, where software and information is available on demand, has boomed in recent years, with the US cloud computing market worth an estimated $68 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, in January this year, French marketing giant Nexima claimed that the European cloud market was growing by 20 percent a year.

The Commission is also expected to put forward legislation later this summer aimed at harmonising data protection rules and technical standards for cloud computing.

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