Privacy rules, different business processes across more than 40 countries, the deepening debt crisis and a lingering recession will all contribute to a delay in adoption of cloud computing in Europe, according to analysts Gartner.
While interest in cloud in Europe remains high, the Continent will trail at least two years behind the US.
"The opportunities for cloud computing value are valid all over the world, and the same is true for some of the risks and costs," said Paolo Malinverno, vice president at Gartner. "However, some of cloud computing's potential risks and costs – namely security, transparency and integration – which are generally applicable worldwide, take on a different meaning in Europe."
Gartner has identified four main inhibitors for cloud in Europe over the next few years.
First, the Continent's diverse and ever-changing data privacy regulations inhibit the movement of personal data to the cloud. Indeed, many companies in Europe eschew US cloud service providers for fears of potential conflict between European data protection legislation and the US Patriot Act.
Second, the complexity of business-to-business multi-enterprise integration and processes.
Europe's diversity issues are compounded when running common and intrinsically multi-enterprise processes across different countries, claimed Gartner.
While European B2B infrastructure providers have turned this complexity to their advantage, diversity makes achieving critical mass more difficult and slows down the execution of players wanting to offer cloud services throughout Europe.
Third, EU policy-making processes and practices can hinder business. Indeed, the legislative process across the EU is slow and the resulting legislation can still vary widely across Europe. E-invoicing is one of the most recent examples of this.
Fourth, the effect on investment of the debt crisis in the eurozone. This has caused major investments to be put on hold, slowing down strategic and game-changing decision-making.
"The bottom line is that the interest in cloud is as high in Europe as it is elsewhere in the world," said David Mitchell Smith, vice-president and a Gartner Fellow. "While these inhibitors will certainly slow down cloud adoption in Europe, they will not stop it – the potential benefits of cloud are too attractive and the interest in its efficiency and agility are too strong to stall it for long."