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Gaia-X – a digital ecosystem for Europe

Gaia-X, also called the European Cloud, is intended to give businesses a trustworthy alternative to the dominant cloud providers from the USA and China. The German Minister for Economic Affairs presented the Cloud Project to the public back in 2019. Until today, however, the project has been largely unknown: a study by the German Economic Institute (IW) found that only six percent of 500 firms surveyed knew of Gaia-X.

Answer to Google & Co.

At present the market is dominated by non-European cloud providers like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Their small and medium-sized cloud customers are restricted in their freedom of action, for example in the migration of data to a different provider (so-called lock-in effects). Gaia-X is designed to tackle this problem with a networked open data infrastructure based on European values. This infrastructure guarantees complete control of stored and processed data and creates a digital ecosystem which encourages innovative products and business models. On this basis European businesses should be able to scale competitively in future.

Businesses are already launching cooperation initiatives in line with this idea. Thus Ventus Cloud AG, a Swiss cloud provider, is giving its customers in the public cloud environment access to a European solution based on open-source technology. A collaboration with Datwyler IT Infra has been established as part of the private cloud offering: Ventus customers can operate their private cloud securely, cost-effectively and to scale with modular mini data centres – completely preassembled plug-and-play IT infrastructure solutions from Datwyler.

Data remain in European data centres

In July 2020, the Gaia-X project was given an additional impetus in respect of data protection: the European Court of Justice returned a judgement ruling that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must apply throughout the EU. It stipulates that in principle personal data may only be submitted to a third country if the country in question guarantees an adequate level of protection for the data. This is incompatible with the US Cloud Act.

Ultimately the architects of the new cloud infrastructure aim to set up a separate ecosystem as an alternative to the American and Chinese tech sphere – thereby preventing Europeans from having to decide on one of the two digital worlds. The fact is that Europe has become technologically dependent, and this is posing a threat to its own sovereignty and future prosperity: Europe is lagging far behind the USA and China in the development of digital services.