30 Jun Europe Wants to Know – What Do Cloud Companies Stand For? – Chapter 6: Listening to the cloud community in the Baltic states
During the course of the last six months, the European Cloud Alliance (ECA) together with the main industry associations in the Baltic states and Microsoft embarked on a listening tour of the Baltic States’ cloud community to better understand local needs and ensure that cloud service providers adapt their approaches and offerings to new realities in the region. The ECA partnered with pre-eminent technology associations in each of the three countries in hosting a series of open discussions exploring the needs and challenges of the cloud ecosystem. ECA’s collaborators included the Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA); the Lithuanian association, INFOBALT; and the Estonian Association of Information Technology (ITL).
In a series of roundtable discussions, government officials, industry representatives, cloud providers and cloud users expressed their views on the different strategies for fostering cloud adoption in the public and private sectors, and explored how cloud hyperscalers can support this process.
Main take-aways from the European Cloud Alliance
Data protection and cybersecurity among the main take-aways
Across the region, the protection and geolocation of data were highlighted as main concerns, particularly by governments engaged in planning to adopt cloud solutions. Government representatives highlighted their distinct approaches:
- The Lithuanian government is advancing the adoption of a hybrid cloud model based on a multi cloud approach, with the possibility of storing data in other secured countries within the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA), or NATO.
- Estonia has established the world’s first “data embassy” with the aim to store critical information outside its territory. The country also plans to develop a Government Cloud 2.0, which would host one-fifth of Estonia’s infrastructure in private cloud and the rest in public cloud.
- The Latvian government is planning to expand its governmental private cloud to protect data and integrate private cloud providers in the future.
These three different approaches are all designed to solve common challenges regarding data protection, cybersecurity, and the risk of dependency.
Addressing the digital skills shortage is essential to unleash the potential of cloud in the region
A critical challenge to the successful implementation of cloud solutions in the public and private sectors is the lack of professionals with adequate skills. Governments and private actors in the region agreed on the need to address the digital skills shortage to unleash the full potential of cloud solutions. This shortage includes cybersecurity experts who can protect cloud platforms. Even advanced digitalized countries such as Estonia report shortages of ICT workers, and other countries, such as Latvia, score well below average in digital skills
The gaps in digital skills and the shortage of ICT professionals are not only a problem for the Baltic states but also for other countries in Europe. In recognition of both problems, the European Union declared 2023 as the Year of Skills and made the reskilling and upskilling of workers a priority in Next Generation funding. The EU has also established digital targets to be met by 2030.
There is a need to foster the adoption of cloud by the private sector
The Baltic region, particularly Latvia and Lithuania, must advance private-sector cloud adoption. Latvia, for example, is one of the EU countries with the lowest percentage of companies using cloud computing, scoring better than only Hungary, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. The use of cloud by companies in Lithuania is also below the EU average. The low adoption of cloud solutions can be explained by the large proportion of micro and small firms in the economy and the absence of workers with adequate skills. In contrast to Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia has recently progressed in the adoption of cloud by private companies.
The importance of listening to Europe
This tour of the Baltic states was key to understanding the main challenges in the region. During the discussions, cloud hyperscalers such as Microsoft and Google were able to explain how they are helping to confront the challenges in the Baltic countries.
Microsoft explained how its European Cloud Principles, announced a year ago, highlight the company’s strong commitment to respecting Europe’s needs and values.
The tour highlighted the importance of cloud platform providers listening to Europe and placing a premium on local inputs as they develop their services. Only a collaborative approach among governments, industry, and civil society can unleash the potential of cloud in Europe
The European Cloud Alliance will continue to support governments and industry in their digital transformation journey in the Baltic region.