Cloud computing allows users to remotely access high-powered computing resources (both infrastructure and software/services), contained in off-site data centers and owned and operated by a third-party vendor, from modest end-user systems via a broadband connection. Users need not build, maintain, and upgrade on-site IT systems, allowing for substantial cost savings. By commoditizing IT infrastructure and software, providers of cloud services rely on economies of scale to build massive IT resources that can be portioned to clients on an as-needed basis. This shift allows for the more efficient use of computer resources and IT, and allows individuals and small companies access to vast amounts of computing resources they would not have had the means to access in the past. This allows cloud computing customers to shift spending from IT to focus on their core businesses, while utilizing the greater efficiency and improved tools enabled by the cloud.
Cloud computing puts pressure on many different areas of policy, and action is necessary to create the optimal environment for innovation and growth. Broadband deployment, competition policy, intellectual property reform, privacy, and cybersecurity are just a few areas that must be addressed to foster rapid innovation and adoption of cloud computing. The very nature of cloud computing raises the stakes for policymakers; providers of cloud services will relocate to the countries and regions that create the optimal legal frameworks for it to thrive. If the U.S. hopes to remain the world’s innovation leader long into the future, considerable time and care should be invested in ensuring that laws and regulations are significantly forward looking and take into account the needs of businesses and governments that will come to rely on the cloud