How the European Union is Rebalancing the Global Cloud Market

The global cloud market needs a major rehaul. Over half of the worldwide cloud market share is dominated by five companies (think AWS, Google, Microsoft, etc.). No industry can operate as a free market (or even really be considered one) when big brands are this dominant, and the cloud market is no exception. Monopolies leave little room for competition, innovation, and consumer choice – a toxic combination for a developing market as massive and robust as the cloud industry. And while this is not a new fact, little has been done to break the cloud monopoly.

Except for now, thanks to the EU Cloud Initiative.

The European Roadmap for Next-Generation Cloud-Edge Offering

Co-authored by 27 leading European cloud industry companies – including sections contributed by myself and Con Zwinkels, Leaseweb founder and CEO – the European Roadmap for Industrial Technology for Next-Generation Cloud-Edge Offering outlines strategic investment priorities and recommendations to accelerate the development and deployment of competitive, secure, reliable and climate-neutral cloud services in the EU. The initiative underlines the common interest and ambition to create something unique, backed by a €20 billion investment fund.

It is (almost) unprecedented that the European market has united in this way to create this landmark roadmap – the EU has, once before (and very successfully) banded together to fight monopolistic rule in a global industry. Airbus, the entirely EU-based aircraft company, was created to break the monopolistic control of more prominent and established international aircraft builders. No EU country alone had the power to pull something of this scale off.

Now the EU is ready for more in the form of a total cloud market rehaul. Here, too, cooperation is the only option to break the hyperscaler hegemony. This is the goal of the recently announced EU cloud roadmap, which contains the initial framework for creating a collective European cloud offering including:

  • Leadership in areas that will shape and showcase Europe’s cloud and edge offerings to the global market
  • Renewing and expanding infrastructure foundations across Europe
  • Enabling independent and industry-specific services to end-users

Why it Matters

The roadmap is more than just a defensive step to protect European hosters and cloud parties from global competition. It’s for all the European businesses and individuals bound to hyperscalers with no control over data privacy or rising service costs.

For example, Airbus and Amadeus have clearly stated their need for a complete and available portfolio of services on European territory, as they (among many other European multinationals) need a partner that is fully committed to European legislation and regulations.

Precisely because of the European dynamics, there is an opportunity to set up a cloud infrastructure in a completely new way. I’ve said before that this new open way of cooperation has massive potential to put the EU at the forefront of virtually any industry it put its mind to, and the cloud roadmap is a prime example of this. The Gaia-X initiative also falls under this new open way of working, and I expect it will also receive a boost under the influence of the roadmap. Customers have the right to choose and deserve access to premium services everywhere in Europe, something that is currently virtually impossible due to the level of difficulty in switching providers for every service in a cloud stack.

What’s Next

Innovative projects that further cloud innovation may now be submitted in any European country. The €20 billion investment fund is being divided and distributed across the EU. New frameworks are being explored for open source projects so that when the time comes, teams and companies across the EU are ready to build new and better clouds and cloud services together.

I believe the success we’ve seen in the past and the massive potential we have for the future means that this certainly won’t be the last we see a collective, global EU powerhouse rise to the occasion.

This article was originally published in Dutch for Computable.