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GAIA-X is intended to promote cloud computing on a European level as a hybrid data platform. More than 350 companies and organizations are involved in setting up the lighthouse project – and for good reasons.

With GAIA-X, policymakers and businesses have embarked on an ambitious project to build a European data infrastructure. As a digital data ecosystem, GAIA-X is intended to reduce technological dependencies on international hyperscalers and at the same time strengthen the value chains in the EU’s digital single market. Following the example of Airbus, the digital project is being supported in partnership between EU countries and representatives from business and science. By pooling their expertise in this way, the initiators of GAIA-X hope to significantly boost the competitiveness and innovative strength of European digital providers and services.

Focus on practical feasibility

In the future, GAIA-X is expected to promote practical solutions in the eight areas of Industry 4.0: smart living, finance, geoinformation, healthcare, the public sector, mobility, agriculture, and energy. This is evident from the GAIA-X use cases already outlined. A specific case study, for example, describes the use of the data platform for sustainable finance based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It would also be possible to use GAIA-X as a framework for the secure exchange of healthcare data to improve patient care. In the transportation sector, the project could, among other things, enable optimized maintenance solutions based on predictive maintenance. Intelligent algorithms calculate when and where maintenance work needs to be done on the transport infrastructure when required. For these and many other areas of application, an open data platform based on European standards offers tremendous advantages.

In the following ranking, you can find out which specific properties make GAIA-X so interesting for business, industry, science, administration as well as consumers:

GAIA-X is expected to score with these strengths:

1. Actively shape progress & innovation in the cloud

Cloud computing has become an indispensable part of modern society. The technology enables companies to provide data and services in real time to millions of users. Modern collaborative work on documents, video conferencing, online banking, and even streaming music and movies would be inconceivable without the cloud. As the Bitkom study “Cloud Monitor 2020” shows, three out of four German companies are already using cloud services today. According to a recent survey by Sopra Steria, the main arguments in favor of the technology are its high scalability, mobile access to operational resources, and the ability to innovate through technologies such as AI and big data analytics. 

With the steady digitization of the financial industry, healthcare, critical utilities, and many other industries, more and more processes are moving to the cloud – and that creates dependencies.

2. Break through one-sided market dominance

The cloud market is currently largely dominated by a few global hyperscalers. Especially in exceptional situations such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, digital sovereignty and autonomy are crucial factors in overcoming the crisis. In the past year, numerous companies and other organizations were forced to rely on cloud solutions for the benefit of business continuity that were not compatible with the applicable compliance requirements for IT security and data protection. Requirements-compliant alternatives from local vendors were indeed very much available, but were often ignored due to existing vendor lock-in effects and less widespread name recognition. This strategy may be a common approach to avoiding operational failures in exceptional situations. However, companies that persistently violate the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regulatory requirements must expect consequences. As the German-language business newspaper Handelsblatt recently reported, German supervisory authorities are currently stepping up their investigations into data protection violations due to the use of US cloud services.

3. Expand data protection and IT security

The GDPR provides Europe with a unique tool for protecting sensitive data. Internationally, the regulations have become a symbol of consistent data protection and data integrity, which many countries are looking to as a model. EU companies also use the GDPR as a seal of quality for compliance with the strictest data protection requirements. In addition, the EU Directive on security of network and information systems (the NIS Directive) defines the requirements for a uniform level of IT security at the European level. The directive aims in particular to protect critical infrastructure from cyber incidents. GAIA-X builds precisely on this massive foundation for data protection and IT security.

4. Strengthen the single market, promote local players

EU-compliant data protection is one of the primary selection criteria for German companies when procuring new cloud services. In addition, cloud-based services should exclusively be provided from local data centers from the EU and Germany. Accordingly, 69 percent of German IT management are in favor of establishing GAIA-X as a European cloud infrastructure. The majority of decision-makers expect the data platform to give them greater independence from foreign providers, higher standards for system and data security, and a boost in digital innovation. Solutions that rely on GAIA-X will also benefit from this popularity in the future. An economic market analysis of GAIA-X, which was presented to the German Bundestag, puts the relevant market in 2023 at around 45 billion euros – with annual growth of 17 to 19 percent.

5. Increase performance and convenience

By focusing on open and modular standards, GAIA-X also aims to increase interoperability in cloud computing. The platform seeks to make data as freely accessible as possible so that business, science, and society can benefit directly from it. For example, shared data pools encourage work on machine learning and AI. This in turn fosters the implementation of innovative technologies in existing cloud services. For the companies and organizations involved, this means additional benefits in performance and convenience – with no trade-offs in terms of data protection and security.

Outlook: How GAIA-X is progressing

GAIA-X is currently still in an early phase of development. For example, the German Federal Network Agency held a funding competition in which project outlines could be submitted until the beginning of May. The projects showing the greatest promise are to be funded to the tune of 10 to 15 million euros. According to a participating company, those responsible anticipate the first official GAIA-X-certified services for operational use to be available from the middle of the year. Also planned for the second half of the year is the launch of federated cloud services that enable the secure exchange of data on the GAIA-X platform.

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