Franco-German cloud framework floated to protect European's data from foreign tech firms slurpage

Economy Ministers mark official launch of GAIA-X project

The Economy Ministers of Germany and France, Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire, held a media event on Thursday to talk up GAIA-X, an EU data infrastructure initiative aiming to take on Silicon Valley and Chinese behemoths to protect data.

"We are wholeheartedly convinced that the final success of this digital moonshot will be crucial for Germany, for France, and for Europe as far as our economic strength, our competitiveness, and our sovereignty are concerned," said Altmaier at the event.

Introduced as a concept last October, GAIA-X will be set up as a non-profit foundation in Belgium where it will define the rules of engagement by which cloud service providers can interoperate under EU regulations. The project's stated goal is to ensure data sovereignty, data availability, interoperability, portability, transparency and fair participation.

In short, it's an attempt to define a space that's safe from US and Chinese cloud giants and conforms with EU data protection requirements. It's part of the broader European Data Strategy.

A group of 22 companies from France and Germany have been participating in the project's development as founding members, including telecom firms like Deutsche Telekom and Orange, manufacturers like Bosch, BMW, and Siemens, and cloud computing providers like Atos and OVHcloud. Project documentation claims that about 170 people from 150 companies, research institutes, and other organizations are helping to bring the project to fruition.

According to consultancy Canalys, AWS captured about 32 per cent of the global cloud infrastructure market in Q4 2019, about two times more than Microsoft Azure and over five times more than Google Cloud.

European cloud companies don't show up on that list and that's something of a sore point. As one of the GAIA-X documents observes, "Europe’s digital infrastructure currently lies in the hands of a small number of major non-European corporations: Europe has no notable operating system developers, no relevant search engines, no global social network and no competitive cloud infrastructure."

GAIA-X, it's hoped, will make Europe rate again, or something along those lines.

A technical prototype of the platform is due by the end of the year. The ecosystem consists of Nodes (computational resources), Services (cloud service providers), Service Instances (one or more Nodes doing something), and Data Assets (sensitive info).

Gaia-X project illustration

It encompasses identity and trust management, service discovery and description, standards for interoperability, policy enforcement, contractual options, and monitoring and metering.

Europeans have tried this before with Qwant, another Franco-German project intended to serve as a more privacy-focused alternative to Google Search. It hasn't yet made much of dent in Google's business, but perhaps further protectionism will raise the service's profile.

French Economy Minister Le Maire said, "We are not China. We are not the United States. We are European Countries with our own values and with our own economic interests that we want to defend." ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block some Microsoft web trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains.

    Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022