The GAIA-X project started at the end of 2020. A collaboration of European companies and organizations to counterbalance the hegemony of the heavyweights in the Cloud, such as Google Cloud, AWS, Azure and Alibaba Cloud. After all, the US Cloud Act is not offering nearly as much data sovereignty as what is contained within the GDPR. And yet, the Americans control about 70% of the market.
At the end of November 2021, one of the first proponents of the project, Scaleway (cloud branch of the French operator Iliad), withdrew from the project. According to the company, Europe can not regain its digital sovereignty this way. And with that, the original objective of the GAIA-X project has, in their view, become unattainable.
Are these the first writings on the wall? Are there cracks in the GAIA-X philosophy? But is it possible to start large-scale European cooperation without some friction? There are many different and sometimes conflicting interests at play. And with large interests, comes a power struggle and therefore political struggle. Not even to mention all the discussions, bureaucracy and consultations. So many countries, so many players, so many visions. But has it become impossible? Should the towel be thrown?
At Fuga Cloud, we still believe in the “Four Opens” and how those are integrated within the principles of GAIA-X. We see the possibilities for European cooperation. After all, many hands make light work. How much more powerful is setting up something in another country if there is the support of a local party? Each has its quality and combines that into a powerful combination of services, all for the user’s benefit.
A few days after Scaleway left, the first community meeting of the GAIA-X Hub Netherlands was online. They gave an update of the latest state of affairs. How, slowly but surely, the European noses are moving in the same direction, as far as the guidelines are concerned. What the Hub is still thinking of, what they currently work on and how GAIA-X can support quality assurance within organizations. GAIA-X sounded very lively to us.
The GAIA-X Hub Netherlands exchanges knowledge and is setting up several use cases. These use cases make it evident for various sectors how data is used more intelligently and the possibilities of a European cloud infrastructure and data storage. Fortunately, there was also the time to present two use cases. Examples like this always make the picture a lot more concrete. Case 1 was about a robot that should help agriculture detect mistakes and dangers in cultivation and thus help the farmer to optimize the harvest yield. Efficiency in agriculture, fewer pesticides, better proceeds (and therefore better prices for the farmer?) are on the horizon.
The second case was perhaps even more beautiful from a human point of view. The medical branch also wants to join European hands to work together in the treatment of rare diseases by sharing illnesses, symptoms, treatments and side effects. For example, diseases with only 5 cases per country are given more results due to the European bundling of the data. Doctors have more information for their diagnosis, more examples or numerical support for their treatment method and do not have to reinvent the wheel every time. Sharing can result in significant time savings, improvement in treatment and improvement in quality of life for the patient.
Without friction, there is no shine.
GAIA-X is a big project, but the principles laid down in it open up many possibilities:
- European data protection
- Openness and transparency
- Authenticity and trust
- Digital sovereignty and self-determination
- Free market access and European value creation
- Modularity and Interoperability
These principles are significant for every European user who wants their data to be stored safely in the Cloud and for those concerned about their rights. And let us face it, if the above use cases are just the beginning of the collaboration in GAIA-X, then it is worth the fight, or isn’t it?
Because without friction, there is no shine. Fuga Cloud sees a bright future for GAIA-X, and we are happy to contribute to that.
(Not familiar with GAIA-X? Read the extensive article ‘What is GAIA-X?' from earlier this year)
Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about Fuga Cloud, and what we can do for your organization in the cloud.