The magazine > Finland: the success story of the sovereign cloud

According to Eurostat, Finland had the highest rate of use of cloud services in the European Union in 2014 (51% compared with an average of 19% and ... 12% for France alone!) When we look at Finland's profile in the new Digital Economy and Society Index drawn up by the European Commission and published in February 2015, we see that there is a clear correlation with the digitisation of public services (in other words, the actual digital transformation of administrations). We can therefore assume that the State has already set a massive example in the use of the Cloud in Finland. But that's not all. As well as having a territory and a climate conducive to energy use and eco-efficient server room cooling, the country benefits from some of the cheapest electricity rates in Europe.

While this attracts many foreign investors who come here to build their data centres, the Finnish state also operates public service clouds! CSC (a Finnish organisation administered by the Ministry of Education and Science) is a not-for-profit organisation whose role is to provide IT resources (computing power and storage) and assistance to the country's research institutes, academies and businesses. A cloud operated by the State to provide a public service, in other words, what some would have liked to see emerge from the 'sovereign French cloud'.

Above all, there is also the Cloud Software programme, launched in 2010 by the Finnish cluster Tivit (since renamed Digile, one of Finland's strategic centres for science, technology and innovation). If you go to the Digile website, the definition of the cluster's mission is clear, and shows just how much Finland has already understood the importance of bringing players together to make a success of the digital enterprise, and just how much of a national issue this is. Here's an extract: "Today, the digital enterprise is an essential part of all kinds of business and public services - not just ICT. As one of Finland's strategic centres for science, technology and innovation (SHOKs), DIGILE's role is not only to bring together and systematise research and development, but also to ensure that the results of research are understood, applied and adopted in business settings as quickly as possible. [...] Increasingly intelligent services are also a means of increasing labour productivity and society in general. DIGILE believes that Finland is perfectly placed to become a forerunner in building and operating digital services, as well as transforming these services into a major export product for the global market."

The alliance between research and business, the key to the success of the sovereign cloud

The Cloud Software programme has brought together 20 companies and 8 research institutes (including the CSC organisation and the VTT technical research centre under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and the Economy), with a project portfolio equivalent to one hundred million euros over four years. Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) awarded it "only" €8m in grants for the first year...
One example is the Ixonos "City online solution", an open source SaaS platform for local authorities that uses the results of Software programme projects and respects an architecture model, KuntaIT, which guarantees the interoperability of the platform's current and future services for municipalities. A solution that has been exported to ... China since 2010.
This cooperation and coordination between research institutes and companies with a common goal - competitiveness - should be a model for France. Clearly, in this model, it is not a question of waiting for directives from a centralising or planning state, but of seeing the state play its role as a player and stakeholder, certainly in setting an example, but also in its ability to participate in the animation of ecosystems of suppliers and customers to create innovative services AND that can be "applied and adopted within the framework of companies as quickly as possible".

Find out more about the Finland and other countries

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