Awards put EuroCloud in global context
- With 30 contenders already named in the pan-European EuroCloud Awards contest, a picture is emerging of the current state of cloud computing in Europe and how it competes on a global stage.
After graduating from national contests in the spring and summer, a cross-section of Europe's finest cloud providers will be competing to be named a pan-European champion in the annual EuroCloud Congress & Awards in Luxembourg this October.
With 30 contenders already declared in their own country's award contests, a picture is emerging both of the final line-up and what it tells us about the shape of cloud computing in Europe.
Here are a few observations. [In response to some feedback, I've made some amendments below, as flagged by comments in square brackets. One of the perils of operating in Europe is that cultural and linguistic differences often lead to inadvertent misunderstandings of tone, language and intent].
Cloud is a cross-border affair and the extent to which Europe is open to the world when it comes to cloud providers is emphasized by the make-up of the contestants.
In the UK contest, whose winners were declared late last week, it was striking that not one of the final shortlist for 'Best Cloud Offering' actually originates in the UK.
Of the three, cloud management platform provider Abiquo is closest to home, having been founded in Spain with the help of Spanish government funding. Xero is well established in the UK and a popular choice for small business accounting (diginomica is a Xero user) but it's based in New Zealand, where its stock is listed.
The UK winner is the US company OneLogin, for its cloud identity management platform.
The UK has something of a track record in sending local subsidiaries of US companies to the Luxembourg finals: last year it selected the cloud identity platform of US vendor Ping Identity, which went on to become the European champion.
But it's not simply a matter of the Brits cosying up to their transatlantic cousins: this year's winner in Germany is salesforce.com Deutschland GmbH for its Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
The rules are clear on this point: entry is open to any product or service that's actively offered in the local market. In that respect, the EuroCloud contest reflects the reality of the European cloud market: it's open to all comers (even if Europeans sometimes find they can't resist the temptation to talk up local preferences).
Conversely, Europe's startups are perfectly capable of acting like global contenders. Some even hide their origins in order to appeal better to a global or US audience — scan the website of on-demand QR code creation and management provider Esponce and you'll find virtually no clue that this startup hails from Slovenia, where it picked up the 'Best Cloud Startup' award. Still, it wasn't until last week that Techcrunch discovered there really are startups in the Balkans.
The breadth of fertile innovation is apparent from a cross-section of winners from a selection of countries:
- The Austrian best startup is Flatout Technologies, which offers a home automation system for controlling domestic lighting, heating and appliances from your smartphone or tablet.
- Also from Austria, its best offering champion is runtastic, already highly successful with its suite of apps, hardware products and online services that help people track their health and fitness, get in shape and stay healthy.
- France's startup winner. Clever Cloud, bills itself as 'Le cloud français', offering a highly scalable, pay-for-usage, elastic platform-as-a-service for applications running on PHP, Python, Java, Scala and NodeJS, with options ranging from Wordpress to Couchbase and MongoDB.
- The UK's startup winner is present.me, a cloud-based service for easily recording presentations that combine documents, pictures or slides with a voiceover and video.
- Spain's 'Best cloud offering' winner is ECManaged, an online application for deploying, managing and monitoring applications across multiple cloud platforms.
- Best startup in Luxembourg is the maker of iPaymo, which came out of the technology transfer program of the European Space Agency. It users geolocation to improve the security of online payment processing.
- Germany's best startup award goes to a highly specialized B2B vertical market offering called CLEVER Risk-Assessment from CE CON24, which helps manufacturers manage CE mark certification.
New faces, old faces
Mixed in with the fresh new startups it is noticeable that some award winners are making a return journey to Luxembourg.
- Fabasoft, a previous award winner in Austria, has won awards this year for its foliocloud platform in both Austria and Germany [Update: to be precise, the German award for 'best business impact'] was won by its customer Daimler AG. And one of the factors Fabasoft's case study win in Austria was an exceptional and distinctive focus on accessibility by visually impaired and blind users.]
- Analytics visualization provider Bime, a former European best startup winner, has won the French public sector case study award for its work in Canada with the Ministry of Justice British Columbia.
- In Slovenia, Si.mobil wins a private sector case study award this year for the same regional cloud service brokerage platform that earned a best offering the year before.
- LuxCloud and ebrc are both returning winners in the Luxembourg national contest.
To some extent it may be the case that if companies excel then they may win in different categories from year to year — appearing, for example, as a startup one year and returning as an established company with a case study or mature offering later on. So there's no reason to infer that a repeat win is any less well deserved.
At the same time, it's also true that EuroCloud needs to do a better job of raising the profile [ie visibility and status] of the awards so that it gathers more entries in each country and fully justifies its claim to gather the cream of the European industry at its October awards event.
Just a sample
[Updated to clarify scope and intent]. This article is just a sample of the national award winners in the first seven countries to finish their judging. To see further information on and a full list of the winners in each country, follow these links:
Participating countries not included above because their results are not yet available online include the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey.
The views expressed here are the author's own in his capacity as an independent writer for diginomica and are not in any way sanctioned or endorsed by EuroCloud. Judging of the EuroCloud Awards is performed in accordance with published criteria by an independent panel of jurors without participation or influence from the EuroCloud board.
Disclosure: The author serves unpaid as chair of EuroCloud UK and vice-president of EuroCloud Europe. As media sponsor of the EuroCloud UK Best Business Impact Award, diginomica published case studies of the three finalists for that award last week: ICAEW, webexpenses and Guidepost Solutions.
Photo credits: Flags © marqs - Fotolia.com; Awards presentation @DT