GAIA-X is characterised by the following core elements:
- We want to create the next generation of data infrastructure for Europe, its states, its companies and its citizens.
- This infrastructure needs to meet the highest standards in terms of digital sovereignty and fostering innovation. We regard this infrastructure as the cradle of an ecosystem, where data and services can be made available, collected and shared in an environment of trust.
- The concept focuses on the precise needs of users and the added benefit as shown with the use cases.
- The existing concepts are to be understood as a proposal to Europe as we developed them with our French partners. We are pursuing this path also together with other European partners and in alignment with the European Commission.
- Our goal is to establish a more solid framework for this idea in 2020 and to launch some first use cases by the end of that year.
There are three reasons why we need GAIA-X:
- Data sovereignty: Existing cloud offerings are currently dominated by non-European providers, that are able to rapidly scale their infrastructure, and that hold significant market power and large amounts of capital. At the same time, we are seeing growing international tensions and trade conflicts across the globe. Europe needs to ensure that it can establish and maintain digital sovereignty permanently.
- Data availability: We need a trustworthy, secure and transparent data infrastructure that can be used to exchange and process data. This is the only way we can use the economies of scale created by the availability of large data sets in Europe.
- Innovation: We need a digital ecosystem that allows for the development of innovative products and helps European companies and business models scale up and be globally competitive. GAIA-X provides the basis for this.
3. What are the key elements? Are you building another hyperscaler, that will compete against existing market offerings?
This new federated data infrastructure is:
- Decentralised: GAIA-X connects centralised and decentralised infrastructures within a homogeneous system.
- Secure, trustworthy and confidently: The goal is to create a modular, secure, trustworthy and user-friendly system, that brings together existing cloud providers and their services and in which data and applications can be handled in a way, that ensures full control over these.
- Transparent: Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, benefit from transparent markets, broad access to customised services and the options becoming available as a result.
- Open: The data infrastructure will be based on the open source principle.
- The basis for creating an ecosystem: The infrastructure will lead to the emergence of an ecosystem that strengthens the digital sovereignty of cloud service users and helps European cloud providers scale their business and improve their competitiveness. This ecosystem will foster innovation and provide easy access to new digital technologies.
GAIA-X is not intended to compete against existing offerings (such as hyperscalers). Instead, GAIA-X is intended to connect different elements via open interfaces and standards in order to aggregate data and create a platform for innovation. The project is open to all interested stakeholders, whether large industrial companies, SMEs or start-ups. The focus will be on the users – who are a key factor in the success of the digital economy.
For the German and French governments, the project is of interest for the economy as a whole to ensure security, maintain sovereignty over data and take the decisions that will ensure that we remain innovative and competitive for a long time to come. GAIA-X will provide the necessary infrastructure for this. However, establishing such a highly complex infrastructure means that different groups of stakeholders – both from the provider and user side – need to work together. The relevant Ministries have provided input and served as neutral mediators, helping drive forward this cooperation of stakeholders who had not worked together until the creation of GAIA-X.
The government’s role in the digital world is not only that of a regulator, but can also be that of an user. Applications in the public sector need to be particularly secure, reliable, trustworthy and transparent, whilst the applications in science require a high-performance infrastructure and broad data availability.
The aim is to transfer the project into fixed structures. For this purpose, companies and organisations from Germany and France have started to set up an international non-profit association (French: association internationale sans but lucratif, in short: AISBL) under Belgian law. The organisation will further develop the technical solution and regulatory framework. The founding members have signed the notarial foundation documents in September 2020.
In order to formally complete the founding process, the Belgian authorities still need to carry out an audit. Meanwhile, the association will continue to prepare and develop its headquarters in Brussels and key organisational structures. As soon as the GAIA-X Association is legally established, further members will be admitted, especially from other European member states.
The first GAIA-X services will be prototypically implemented by early 2021. Interested European partners are invited to further develop the project with us. Already, representatives from many European nations are actively involved in the conceptual work. The dialogue with other EU countries and the EU Commission will be intensified.
6. Who can join the project in future and how can interested companies and organisations get involved?
GAIA-X is characterized by openness and transparency and will be developed with the participation of users and providers. Hence active cooperation is open to all organizations, but is also desired. This should ensure a certain degree of commitment as well as progress in the project. More than 300 organizations from many countries are already involved in GAIA-X. Companies and organisations interested in participating in the project can get in touch via following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the common manifesto for a European Industrial Policy fit for the 21st Century, of February 2019, between the German and French Ministers of Economic Affairs, it was decided that the Gaia X project, once initiated by the German Government, would be bilateralized and developed together with France. During the specific elaboration of the project concept, additional partners from the provider and user sides were continuously integrated in order to enrich and further develop the project with their professional expertise.
Today, representatives from over 300 organizations located in various countries are currently working closely together on this European project, and there is still room for more, especially for European partners.
More than 300 organizations from many countries are already involved in GAIA-X. These include technology companies - large corporations as well as small and medium-sized enterprises – which are developing a technological proposal from a provider’s perspective. The success of the project depends especially on user-driven demand. Therefore, companies and organizations from different domains are involved in the project. Associations such as BDI, Bitkom, eco, VOICE, VDMA, Cigref and MEDEF and existing initiatives such as the International Data Spaces Association and Trusted Cloud are also closely involved.
GAIA-X is planned as an open and flexible data infrastructure. Therefore, cloud providers who have not been involved in the project so far have the opportunity to participate at any time, as long as they clearly share the values and ambitions of GAIA-X - data sovereignty and data availability - and fulfill the common rules for participation. The balance of interests is to be ensured on the one hand by organising the entity as a neutral instance. In addition, the GAIA-X guidelines, principles and standards also formulate corresponding objectives for maintaining neutrality, openness, transparency and data sovereignty.
The project can be seen as a proposal addressed to Europe. The system is designed to be open and not bound by national borders. We want to pursue this path with partners from Europe and are in communication with other countries, the EU Commission and international companies and organisations. Representatives from France and other European nations are already working on the main concepts. Other interested European Member States, companies and organisations can contact us via the mail address email@example.com.
11. How will the submitted use cases be financially supported with regard to development and implementation?
The participation of the business community is essential for the successful implementation of the GAIA-X project. A joint financial participation by the business community and the government, based on the respective benefits of GAIA-X, should ensure sufficient funding. The BMWi has initiated several funding programs, that promote the use of artificial intelligence and smart data. Until April 20th, funding on the German side could be provided, for example, through the AI Innovation Competition called ‘Artificial intelligence as a driver for ecosystems relevant to the overall economy’, which was commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Since May 12th the AI Innovation Competition is accepting proposals again; applications can be submitted until September 21st. Within the scope of the AI innovation competition, the BMWK promotes outstanding approaches to new forms of AI-based platform economy in important sectors of the German economy. Another call for funding "Smart and sovereign use of data for production" is currently running until August 20th. The aim is to realise large and ambitious lighthouse projects that provide impulses for entire sectors of the economy.
The French government will support national projects for data sharing through its national strategy for artificial intelligence. The AAP “mutualisation de données” and the “Challenges IA” which operate on a budget of 30M€, have the potential to support the projects that will be implemented in GAIA-X.
More than 40 use cases from different domains have already been submitted and presented. The collection has an exemplary character and currently covers the domains ‘Industry 4.0/SME’, ‘Health’, ‘Finance’, ‘Public sector’, ‘Smart living’, ‘Energy’, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Agriculture’. The case studies are intended to show the potential of the data infrastructure on the basis of application patterns that may also be relevant in other sectors. Furthermore, all interested users are invited to participate and submit new use cases. Of course, also experts and use cases from new domains are welcome. Please contact us by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. How are users and providers involved in the development of GAIA-X and how can they contribute their requirements for a European data infrastructure?
The aim is to realize GAIA-X by a broad and sustainable activation of the user and provider side. This is achieved on the one hand by contributing technical expertise and on the other hand by continuously identifying and integrating domain-specific use cases, that will illustrate the needs and added benefit of a sovereign, European data infrastructure. In addition, representatives and experts from both the user and provider sides of GAIA-X participate in working groups to contribute their expertise and to define and formulate their requirements. Together, these two elements form the basis for GAIA-X and are incorporated into the specific development of the data infrastructure.
All interested parties, who want to contribute their domain-specific and/or technical requirements are invited to join GAIA-X: Both through the contribution of technical expertise, the submission of new use cases and through active and continuous participation in a working group. You can express your interest by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
The concept envisages the use of secure and open technologies provided by the data infrastructure, interfaces for simple and secure data exchange, opportunities to use third-party applications and functions, as well as compliance with standards and easier data migration. Existing technologies will be used and missing technologies or services will be developed and made accessible by the participants in the ecosystem, including on the basis of open source technologies. Key documents on the technical solution approach were published in mid-May.
Important documents and answers to your questions can be found on the GAIA-X website. Further publications followed in May 2020, giving interested parties an insight into the work and the technical details. The publication overview provides an overview of target groups and the content of the respective documents. Many answers can still be found in this FAQ list. If you have further questions, please contact the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to generate added benefits with regard to a data infrastructure, intra-domain and interdomain specific exchange on the one hand, and the connection of data and services beyond provider and customer boundaries on the other hand, must be enabled.
In particular, collaboration between edge and cloud instances should become possible in an uncomplicated manner. This will also lower the barriers for SMEs. Common standards help to break down domain-specific data silos that cannot be linked and evaluated due to a lack of data interfaces. SMEs in particular benefit from market transparency, broad access to alternative offers and the resulting opportunities.
On the basis of the submitted use cases and the domains involved, a common GAIA-X layer has been developed, which incorporates the basic, cross-domain requirements for a European data infrastructure. This defined GAIA-X layer is shared by all domains. However, depending on the domain and use case, additional domain-specific requirements may be identified and necessary. Initial descriptions of the common underlying GAIA-X layer and an exemplary presentation of the additional domain-specific requirements were presented in mid-May.
In order to scale value-added services and to facilitate added value based on digital basic services and mechanisms, a jointly usable implementation of a digital ecosystem is desirable. This increases the consistency of basic services beyond the individual use case in the form of a basic framework common to all domains, thus facilitating the implementation for the user. As a result, such a shared ecosystem can drive its own distribution in a scalable manner and become an "enabler" fir digital value-added services in various domains.
GAIA-X is a federated data infrastructure. Each node of the infrastructure forms an independent unit and can be clearly identified and classified by the decentrally administered self-description. A software repository provides components that must or can be used by all providers, depending on their categorisation. The components can be provided interoperably across multiple nodes. The necessary interfaces, services and products should be harmonized by standards and be easily identified and used in a central repository for all participants.
The purpose of the GAIA-X entity will be to maintain and facilitate work and collaboration within the GAIA-X community, to develop the necessary concepts, guidelines, regulatory frameworks, open source software, platform and tool specifications, documentation and architecture definitions, etc., and to ensure that necessary central facilities and services are made available (especially service/data/provider directory).
In doing so, this organisation shall only offer facilities and services to the extent necessary for the function of the network (Federation of Ecosystems / Community) and cannot be offered by the companies belonging to the network itself.
The GAIA-X entity is also acting as an ambassador for GAIA-X, representing its members and promoting international cooperation in the areas of digital sovereignty, cloud, high performance computing, edge computing, cyber security and standardisation. To this end, the organization works closely with existing standardization initiatives and other related organizations to ensure synergy with existing knowledge and prior investment.