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Attendees were greeted by Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia, and Rok Palčič, Acting General Manager of Microsoft Slovenia. In his speech, Palčič focused on the new opportunities created by cloud computing. This area of computing brings much more than just important technological changes and innovation. More importantly, it drives crucial changes in operations and business models. “We firmly believe that the cloud will play a key role in amplifying the positive effects of IT on improving the competitive position, growing the economy and creating new jobs,” said Palčič and went on to talk about Microsoft’s experience and vision for this area of computing. He also showcased Live@edu services, which are used by many educational organizations in Slovenia. He emphasized that Europe needs to do more to market and utilize the benefits of cloud computing to catch up with the USA and certain Asian countries.

He was followed by Wilfried Grommen, Regional Technical Director, Microsoft CEE, who described cloud computing as a completely new way of acquiring and consuming information technology that will accelerate the adoption of new solutions and reduce their costs. Grommen believes that cloud computing is simply unstoppable and spoke about the key enablers of cloud computing, such as the evolution of hardware, application and operational models, and key policy considerations and still unresolved regulatory challenges in the areas of regulation of data protection and data privacy. Grommen concluded his presentation by talking about cloud opportunities for governments. New services enable them to improve the transparency of their operations, accelerate the deployment of new e-services and improve citizen collaboration. “Governments today must offer more services with fewer resources. However, we know that 80 percent of all IT budgets are used just to keep the lights on. Cloud computing drives dramatic reductions in costs and opens up opportunities for new services, which improve the transparency and include the citizens to enable e-politics.”

Boštjan Klajnščak, IKT Klub, revealed the results of a survey on cloud computing carried out among IT managers in Slovenian companies and governmental institutions. The results show that Slovenian decision makers are familiar with cloud computing and believe that its main benefit is the potential for reducing costs. However, their knowledge of cloud computing is still limited. Decision makers know about the weaknesses and disadvantages of cloud computing but are less familiar with its benefits. Klajnščak believes that awareness could be raised by launching a demonstration center, where vendors could showcase working solutions.

The last speaker was Darja Murkovič Žigart, director of IT at the Pošta Slovenije, a leading provider of postal and logistic services with more than 500-year history. Pošta Slovenije manages one of the largest ICT networks in Slovenia that connects more than 500 offices. Faced with contracting revenues from traditional postal services, the company has been investing in developing modern ICT services for years. These services are designed for end users and businesses and include digital document authentication, e-storage services and secure data center services. The company was among the first in Slovenia to offer infrastructure as a service and is closely monitoring new developments in cloud computing.

The event concluded with an interesting Q&A session where the speakers and attendees talked about best practices from other countries, such as Austria and Estonia. They also spoke about the timeline for switching to new technologies in businesses and governmental organizations.