GAIA-X – A Federated Data Infrastructure for Europe
The aim of GAIA-X is to create a sovereign European cloud network for data exchange, to strengthen Europe’s digital innovative power and independence. First projects will be launched in 2021 and all organizations that follow the rules are welcome to participate.
Large parts of Europe are currently lagging behind regions such as the USA or China in the development of digital services. Factors that have been hampering faster digital development are very strict data privacy laws, along with still widespread general skepticism among IT users regarding potential data theft or misuse in relation to cloud computing or data-centric technologies.
To counteract this trend the German and French governments have launched the GAIA-X project in February 2019, an initiative to strengthen Europe as a location and the companies based there in the digital transformation. This project took off very quickly, gaining a large number of members and thus attracting the interest of many more.
At a GAIA-X summit on Nov. 18 and 19, many of the current GAIA-X members presented among other things, the vision behind the project and the importance of GAIA-X for various sectors of the economy such as healthcare, industry or the energy sector in a two-day lecture program including a roadmap. PAC took the participation of this event as an opportunity to prepare a report with the following topics:
What is GAIA-X?
The name Gaia is derived from one of the first Greek deities to emerge from chaos. The main aim of GAIA-X is to address the chaos and create an ordered, innovative digital ecosystem, based on European values. To achieve this, no new hyperscaler was built, but frameworks and standards that lead to data sovereignty were established. To address these requirements, a suitable infrastructure was created, which is based on the following 3 functional levels:
- Hardware and networks
- Data management, operating systems and databases as well as data processing and use
- B2B platforms
Status quo of GAIA-X
Today more than 350 European and international companies and scientific organizations participate in the project. In June 2020, a non-profit association, GAIA-X AISBL (Association Internationale Sans But Lucrative), was founded with its headquarters in Brussels to further formalize the project and to underline the European and open character of the organization.
Alongside the 22 founding members, further partners from both the provider and user side have been continuously included. All these different organizations are part of GAIA-X and contribute to successful use cases. At the end of 2020, the number of participants amounted to over 350. These organizations can be assigned to one of the following 6 clusters:
· Government representatives
· Cloud user representatives
· Research institutions
· European hosting providers
· Service providers
· Non-European public cloud providers
So far, more than 40 use cases have been submitted in eight domains (Industry 4.0/SME, Health, Finance, Public Sector, Smart Living, Energy, Mobility and Agriculture). These come from various companies and organizations and should serve as a basis to identify and validate domain-specific and cross-domain requirements and to allow these to be incorporated into the development of GAIA-X.
PAC estimates that Sovereign Cloud services already represent a multi-billion Euro business in Western Europe. Due to the many participants with diverse interests, it remains difficult to predict the future development of the GAIA-X project. However, PAC expects double-digit growth rates in the coming years not least accelerated by the GAIA-X initiative. The development will significantly depend on the role and participation of the global hyperscalers. PAC weighs the interests of each group in this report, providing insights into the status and roadmap of the GAIA-X project.