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Cloud28+ EU service catalogue targets local councils

Neil Merrett Published 06 October 2015

Councils and other local organisations anticipated to drive EU cloud service demand through federated catalogue as beta launch begins


The launch of a centralised EU-focused cloud services catalogue is anticipated to have significant benefits for cash strapped local authorities across Europe as efforts continue to expand the number of suppliers included over the next few months, HP has claimed.

Having this month entered a beta phase with 110 official partners providing enterprise cloud services, the company wants Cloud28+ to serve as a federated "one-stop shop" to improve how public bodies across Europe can source common components and tools to underpin their needs. These services can be narrowed to fit within specific operational or national data security and regulatory needs.

Local authorities currently facing significant cost pressures around how public services are managed and delivered are a key target area for the catalogue, despite some wider potential challenges around certification and governance.

Xavier Poisson, HP Helion's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that in attempting to create an independent resource to provide cloud solutions to the public and private sectors, services from the UK government's G-Cloud could potentially be added to the catalogue as well.

He added that no official discussions had taken place at present with the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) over this development. However, Poisson argued this would be an area of interest going forward in an attempt to "build exposure" for cloud services and their streamlined service adoption as part of a proposed single digital market for Europe.

"Imagine you have services adopted for very specific purposes that can be adopted for other European countries," he said. "We would encourage the G-Cloud community to publish opportunities in the Cloud28+ catalogue as well."

While committing to an independent model, Poisson said that any G-Cloud or wider services provided through Cloud28+ would be required to be able to run on HP's OpenStack architecture to ensure it can undertake the required verification processes - even if developed using other tools.

Considering economic pressures facing governments across the EU, Poisson said that local government demand was seen as a key driver for services offered through the framework to try and better address individual cost challenges, while improving potential sharing of resources.

Going forward, HP anticipates that around 600 members could be available on Cloud28+ by December - 110 members are presently entitled to offer services through the catalogue.

"Enterprises can easily identify and implement the cloud services they need, while complying with local regulations," the company said in a release. "In addition, the EuroCloud Star Audit (ECSA) program reduces the necessity to perform costly individual audits and delivers a high level of transparency and guidance for both customers and service providers."

The European Commission earlier this year committed to a wider Digital Single Market (DSM) plan as part of aims to break down online trade barriers between member states.

John Marcus, principal analyst for business network and IT services at Current Analysis said that once the service was fully up and running, local authorities across different member might be able to share common platforms or components for adoption into their own operations in an agile manner.

Citing a Current Analysis report entitled, 'Creating a Sovereign European Hybrid Cloud: HP's Cloud28+ Project', Marcus outlined certification and governance as the key challenges in meeting aspirations to potentially share services and tools between UK-based bodies and those of other nations.

"Various service and software providers have various certifications, upon which they will clearly want to differentiate. Cloud28+ will capture these, but it won't have the capacity for enforcement," he said.

The process of vetting providers on the grounds of service level performance rather than through a service-level agreement (SLA) was expected to be time consuming and possibly dependent on user rating and review functions seen with sites like e-Bay or Amazon, Marcus added.

"Governance of Cloud28+ will be challenged by the same issues facing single providers and users, multiplied by a thousand. Different regulatory regimes, lack of trust between customers and providers, and a lack of transparency in service and quality control - not to mention perceived risks of data transfer in the cloud - could stall the effort in its tracks. HP is steadfast in its drive to resolve these issues with the full participation of the community, but it will remain a perpetual work in process," he said.

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