France is working together with Germany to launch a European Cloud Service, called Gaia-X. The aim is to make Europe more independent from American and Chinese providers. The European platform should become a major counterpart to giants such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Alibaba.
Public Cloud Computing market dominated by US and China
The global public cloud computing market is currently dominated by Amazon Web Services (47,8%), followed by Microsoft Azure (15,5%), Alibaba (7,7%), Google (4%) and IBM (1,8%). None of these players are European. Geopolitical tensions and trade wars, however, are making European politicians and companies cautious about storing data in the cloud on American or Chinese servers.
Since 2018, US storage providers can be ordered to hand over data held on their servers to local authorities, no matter where that information is physically stored. In China information on citizens must always be accessible on demand to local authorities and stored in-country.
Safe and sovereign European data infrastructure
The European cloud initiative Gaia-X was announced in a joint statement from the countries’ Economy and Finance Ministers:
“I’m strongly convinced that close cooperation between France, Germany and other European countries is necessary to tackle the technological revolution of the 21st century,” said France’s Minister Bruno Le Maire. “We want to establish a safe and sovereign European data infrastructure, including data warehouses, data pooling and develop data interoperability.”
Germany’s Minister Peter Altmaier added: “Data will be the most important raw material of the future. The European economy urgently needs an infrastructure that ensures data sovereignty and enables the sharing of data on a broader and secure basis.”
The plans were formulated with the assistance of big local companies including SAP SE, Deutsche Telekom AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Siemens and Bosch. France said it had enlisted local tech companies OVH and Dassault Systèmes.
2020 launch date
Following a workshop on the subject at the end of this month, Germany and France will continue to collaborate on developing the core concepts of Gaia-X. The platform will be officially founded in 2020. It is open to both European and foreign companies, as long as they follow the project’s rules on data sovereignty.
Gaia-X would connect various cloud providers across Europe using open standards, in a way that allows businesses and consumers to move their data around freely. This is important for Europe’s digital and technological autonomy.
The platform Gaia-X is named after an ancient goddess. In Greek mythology Gaia (also spelled Gaea) is the personification of the Earth and the ancestral mother of all life.