Many customers, especially in the EU (European Union) and particularly in Germany and some other countries, are reluctant regarding cloud adoption. There are other regions with comparable situations, such as the Middle East or some countries in the APAC region. Particularly public cloud solutions provided by US companies are seen skeptical.

While the legal aspect is not simple, as my colleague Karsten Kinast recently has pointed out, it can be solved. Microsoft, for instance, has contracts that take the specifics of EU data protection regulations into account and provide solutions. Microsoft provides information on this publicly on its website, such as here. This at least minimizes the grey area, even while some challenges, such as pending US court decisions, remain.

There are other challenges such as the traceability of where workloads and data are placed. Again, there are potential solutions for that, as my colleague Mike Small recently explained in his blog.

This raises a question: Why do CSPs struggle with the reluctance of many EU (and other) customers in adopting cloud services, instead of addressing the major challenges?

What the CSPs must do:

  • Find a deployment model that is in conformance with EU (and other) privacy and data protection laws – which is feasible.
  • Adapt the contracts to the specific regional laws and regulations – again, this can be done, as the Microsoft example proves.
  • Evaluate additional solutions such as traceability of workloads and data, as Mike Small has described in his blog post.
  • Define cloud contracts that take customer needs into account, particularly avoiding disruptiveness to the customer’s business. I have blogged about this recently.
  • Educate your customers openly, both regarding the legal and the technical aspects. The more CSPs do a good job on providing contracts and implementations, the faster reluctance will diminish.
There is some technical work to do. There is more work to do on the legal side. And yes, that will cost a CSP money. Their lawyers might even say they will give up some advantages. However, if your advantage is based on a potential disruptiveness to the customer’s business or slow adoption of the cloud services by customers, then the disadvantages might by far outweigh the advantages.

Thus, the recommendation to CSPs is simple: Make this a business decision, not a lawyer decision. Unilateral, not to say unfair, agreements are a business inhibitor. That is a lesson some of the company lawyers of US CSPs still need to learn.