Global cloud use has increased substantially in recent years. As of 2022, it is estimated that 94% of enterprises use cloud services. Cloud computing is becoming the foundation of digitalization. It is reshaping economies as businesses take advantage of the benefits it provides for cost, security, and performance. As such, cloud computing is now a focus for policymakers and another area of geopolitical competition as tech governance, sovereignty, and economic competitiveness become major political issues.

The Strategic Technologies Program is undertaking a series of projects to examine the policy questions that are arising with the expanded use of cloud services. These projects will explore cloud’s impact on network security and customer experience, global competition with China in developing regions, and questions of lawful access to data and digital sovereignty.

Competing for the Future of Cloud

Cloud services play a crucial role as the backbone technology. Other emerging technologies, such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, biotechnology research, 5G, and artificial intelligence, depend on the cloud, making it truly strategic. The development of cloud services and infrastructure is a strategic issue in that the outcome of cloud competition will shape the economic and security environment for the United States and other democracies. Two papers are forthcoming on this topic, one to look at competition in the Latin America cloud market and one to look at Southeast Asia.

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Photo: OMER MESSINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: OMER MESSINGER/AFP/Getty Images

An Overview of Global Cloud Competition

CSIS’s James Lewis identifies key areas where the United States can adapt to fit twenty-first-century needs to strengthen its position on the global cloud stage in response to China's growing influence.  

Report by James Andrew Lewis — April 10, 2023

Photo: Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock

Photo: Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock

Competing for the Future of Cloud Computing in Latin America

Cloud computing is an important driver of economic prosperity and national security. This report makes the case that building trustworthy cloud computing should be an economic development and foreign policy priority for democratic nations, focusing on Latin America.

Report by Bill Whyman — June 7, 2023

Cloud and Law Enforcement Access to Data

The nature of cloud services means that data is often stored on one or several servers outside of a user’s borders as well as outside of the country where a company’s headquarters may be located. This makes economic sense but raises legal questions when governments wish to access electronic evidence that is stored outside of their jurisdiction for an investigation. This project examines cloud in the context of law enforcement access to data. 

Transitioning Federal Networks to Secure Government Cloud

Cloud services was a critical part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy released in March 2023. The strategy noted cloud enables “better and more economical cybersecurity practices at scale” and committed to advancing Federal use of the cloud and elevating their security. This project examines the opportunities and obstacles associated with secure federal cloud use. 

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