The competition in the global cloud computing market is heating up. Globally, the market is dominated by a handful of US cloud computing giants, along with a couple of Chinese companies and a plethora of much smaller European players. But there is anxiety across Europe. Fears are mounting (rightfully so) that the continent’s digital future will essentially be controlled by players from outside the region. As a result, the European Union and local governments are setting rules, mandates, and standards on how data can (and cannot) traverse around the world. While security and privacy concerns are the main driver for this, policies are also framed by economic interests and national politics.

The buzzword is “data sovereignty.” What this means is that the digital data created by any person, business, or even government should be stored inside the country or region where it originated. As a result of these market dynamics, we are seeing that:

  • Governments are regulating the cloud, not only in Europe. Over 50 countries are accelerating efforts to control the data flows with the objective of gaining digital sovereignty. For example, data should be handled in accordance with privacy and other standards set by the respective regulatory bodies. Sensitive data has stricter laws. Europe is a highly regulated region with diverse markets and rules on data privacy and is therefore forging a separate path, largely initiated with the GDPR from 2018. The hyperscalers complained, got into legal battles, and made the pond murkier. Governments then clamped down on scrapping deals, and the hyperscalers relented. Google signed deals with local tech and telecom providers (for example, T-Systems in Germany).
  • Digital adoption across Europe is growing by leaps and bounds. The pandemic has driven acceptance of the venture capital model in Europe and acted as a catalyst for startups during the last two years. A whopping US$93 billion was invested in European startups — still lagging behind the US and APAC but starting to close the gap — all this despite the fragmented trading environment, languages, cultures, laws, and business norms. As more companies embark on their journey to the cloud, specialist service providers that can support the complex transition of apps to cloud or that have a workforce of cloud engineers are becoming acquisition targets (for example, IBM recently acquired Nordcloud).

In 2022, enterprises are revisiting their plans to optimize across cost, data, resilience, networking architectures, and regulatory requirements. European enterprises are asking their teams key questions: What are our vulnerabilities if a cloud service goes down? Also, how can I tap into industry-specific cloud services? I have written about these topics and more in my recent report on The State Of Cloud In Europe, 2022 (free access for Forrester clients). Happy Reading!