The first community to support the deployment of enterprise cloud computing has launched in the UK this week.
EuroCloud will be led by a team of seven cloud experts, each responsible for co-ordinating the community in a different country. Phil Wainewright, chief executive of consulting firm Procullux Ventures, is to head up the project in the UK.
Wainewright started promoting the initiative more than a month ago, and he said that 20 new companies signed up during its inaugural meeting on Wednesday.
"Around 40 people got together and discussed how to move ahead with the establishment of EuroCloud in the UK," he said.
"A lot of the consensus in the room was around the need for us to pool case studies and get the message out there about how UK customers can benefit from SaaS. This will allow us to raise the visibility of the services."
The umbrella organisation will aim to propose best practice guidelines for cloud vendors, and could also lobby the government or the European Union on areas of potential legislation that affect vendors.
Wainewright explained that one area discussed at this week's meeting was the three strikes legislation being introduced by business secretary Peter Mandelson that could see illegal internet file-sharers, or their households, cut off from the internet after three attempts to download unsanctioned content.
"Of course, all the organisations attending the meeting opposed illegal downloading, but cutting off internet access may run counter to the government's efforts to promote home working, and to the efforts of individuals that want to legitimately use the internet to access services supplied by cloud providers," he said.
"Although this is not the EuroCloud stance as of yet, the concerns were raised at the meeting yesterday."
Tim Packard, vice president of marketing at Mimecast, was one of the attendees at the meeting.
"For me, adoption is everything and this initiative will help end users understand how cloud computing is moving to the mainstream, away from early adopters and towards major buyers," he said.
Another attendee, Schalk Viljoen, business development manager for SAP BusinessByDesign, said: "The event started with discussion on whether the group should adopt a specific inward industry focus where concentration would be on lobbying for specific industry standards, or an outward customer focus.
"We decided on the latter. We want to raise general awareness in the marketplace with customers, analysts, press and government bodies."
Even though all SAP offerings, apart from BusinessByDesign, are supplied as on-premise installations, Viljoen argued that the initiative would not hinder the company in any way. EuroCloud will advertise cloud services, but will not promote them as better than traditional software offerings.
"As SAP has stated in the past, what is best for a lot of companies is a mixture of offerings. It is too simplistic to adopt an either/or approach," he said.
"With the case studies, we aim to be open and transparent. The initiative is to raise the visibility of the cloud in the market, but pure sell is not driving the group."
Meanwhile, Tim Barker, European product marketing director at Salesforce.com, described EuroCloud as key to ensuring that the top standards are adopted by emerging cloud companies.
"For Salesforce, it is important to educate other vendors in the cloud on what needs to be established to ensure that services are secure. We are looking forward to getting involved. What we want is an umbrella organisation that establishes a professional enterprise grade cloud," he said.
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