The European cloud platform GAIA-X is now officially established as a legal entity, allowing the project to start. The GAIA-X Foundation, formed by 22 organizations including Atos, Rittal (Friedhelm Loh Group) and DE-CIX, would underline a joint commitment to a transparent European process, openness and broad participation. It will build on the existing work initiated by the French and German governments and supported by more than 300 businesses.
The project was ceremoniously opened on Thursday by the German and French Ministers of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire. Mr. Altmaier said that the opening of the project is “the starting point of a European data ecosystem”. Until now, Gaia-X was mainly a plan of various European governments, but at least the project has now officially started on paper. Gaia-X has been registered as a non-profit organization in Belgium.
With Gaia-X, countries like France and Germany intend to expand the economic position of the European technology market and be less dependent on technology solutions from other continents. Bruno Le Maire, noted that the essence of the project was about European sovereignty. “We are not China,” said Le Maire. “We are not the United States. We are European countries with our own values.”
It doesn’t mean the door is completely closed to U.S. hyperscalers for a certain level of involvement, although the association itself features European companies and is governed by Europeans. The German Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier, noted that companies from outside the EU will have to abide by the principles of the project in order to be involved, which would include openness, interoperability, transparency, and trust.
“In my talk with American companies, there is a real chance that Gaia-X standards could become a gold standard in cloud services around the world,” said Altmaier. Despite the project being billed by the EU as very much a European enterprise and part of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s goal of achieving digital sovereignty, U.S. hyperscalers are still highlighting a willingness to take part.
Involved in the development of cloud since its inception, Atos brings its expertise of and experience in cloud computing, supported by its comprehensive portfolio and strategic partnerships with leading cloud service providers and deep understanding of customer needs.
“Europe’s digital leadership in the data economy requires flexible and secure cloud capabilities,” said Elie Girard, CEO of Atos. “By facilitating infrastructure, application and data portability, GAIA-X will enable European businesses and public administrations to share their decentralized data in a reliable and secure way, boosting cloud adoption and the creation of value-added ecosystems. This will strengthen Europe’s competitiveness because the approach is unprecedented, driven by industrials, collaborative with hyperscalers, and aims at defining a reasonable set of policies and standards consistent with European values and aspirations.”
“As the operator of the world’s largest neutral interconnection ecosystem, DE-CIX feels it has a duty to work together with the German Federal Government, other companies, and scientists to create a competitive, secure, and trustworthy cloud infrastructure for Europe,” said Harald A. Summa, CEO of the DE-CIX Group. “It is important that the method of data distribution and storage is more effectively under the control of the user and the data owner. That is why, together with politicians, we are calling for a European effort to establish sovereignty over Europe’s data – especially production and industrial data. GAIA-X is designed for this purpose.”
Summa sees the role of DE-CIX primarily in the provision of DE-CIX’s European infrastructure and its further development into automated interconnectivity services within GAIA-X.
“DE-CIX, with its worldwide interconnection infrastructure, is already living the vision of a secure, available, and resilient digital ecosystem,” added Mr. Summa. “Therefore, an integration of DE-CIX into the GAIA-X system makes sense and is a blueprint for how further interconnection providers can integrate themselves into GAIA-X. This is because, through a connection to the DE-CIX platform, more than 1900 service providers – including data centers, network operators, and Internet service providers, as well as more than 50 different cloud providers, including Microsoft, AWS, and SAP – will immediately become accessible for GAIA-X.”