The cloud isn’t exactly catching on across the pond, and European operators of all kinds are in danger of being left behind when it comes to the global cloud-computing market as aggressive North American and Asian counterparts spend billions to build an international presence.

In 2011, 127 global carriers were active in cloud services, compared with only 80 in 2010. The top five cloud investors were AT&T, CenturyLink, NTT, Telstra, Verizon and Windstream, says research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. European operators investing in the cloud were Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Portugal Telecom and Telefonica.

Globally, carriers launched a cloud service every other day in 2011, totaling 170 new services. Five service clusters accounted for 70 percent of service launches: infrastructure as a service, storage, unified communications, business productivity applications and security.

Informa’s Telecom Cloud Monitor says European operators accounted for only 7 percent of the $13.5 billion global operators as a whole committed on cloud assets in 2011. North American and Asian operators accounted for 90 percent ($12 billion).

Comments Camille Mendler, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, ‘Although they are working to stimulate local demand, (European carriers’) investment strategy remains cautious.’

Uncertainty around European security and privacy laws, coupled with continuing economic weakness, are gating cloud investment, believes Mendler. The European Commission won’t begin defining a common legal framework for cloud computing until sometime this year.

Even so, European operators are supporting local innovation: Half of the cloud services they launched in 2011 relied on European cloud-technology vendors.

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