Last week, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, held a joint virtual press conference to present the new European data infrastructure project GAIA-X. OpenNebula, the only EU-based IaaS project and leading contributor to ONEedge—the EU-funded initiative to build the first open source Edge Computing platform in Europe—joined GAIA-X back in March 2020.
It is evident nowadays that Europe’s digital infrastructure 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 public cloud infrastructure. Essential data and analysis infrastructures are also provided by companies from outside Europe. There is a risk of European data being stored outside of Europe or on servers in Europe that belong to non-European companies and will be subject to vendor lock-in.
Led by the German and French governments, a variety of stakeholders at national and European level have now recognised the need for action. Their answer is the GAIA-X project, which aims to achieve an open, federated, secure and trustworthy data and cloud infrastructure for Europe.
The main objective of GAIA-X is to answer the needs of European industry in terms of digital sovereignty while promoting innovation and competitiveness. It is planning to do so by reducing technological dependencies and fostering competition among providers, thus enabling the stakeholders to exercise their sovereignty in data-driven business models and data ecosystems.
This approach is indispensable in building a distributed, federated and open data infrastructure based on European values. The approach builds on existing infrastructure solutions. GAIA-X uses an open ecosystem of providers of various sizes that follow a common GAIA-X reference architecture. The reference architecture ensures that the cloud infrastructures are technically interoperable and create opportunities for collaboration and scaling of business models.
Such a network of cloud infrastructures operated by different companies, and forming a sort of virtual hyperscaler, is expected to become the central basis for the emergence of data-driven ecosystems in fields such as industrial automation, healthcare, e-government, IoT and Fintech. Involvement is open to all market participants—including those outside Europe—who share the goals of data sovereignty and data availability defined by GAIA-X.
GAIA-X is a European project and is based on European values. The GAIA-X project supports the goals of the European data strategy, which the EU Commission published on 19 February 2020. The strategy emphasises the economic and social opportunities of data as well as European values and EU law (data protection, fundamental rights, laws regarding cybersecurity, openness, fairness, diversity, democracy and trust). This trust is to be guaranteed by implementing European values and EU law. The aim is to enable better decision-making through the use of data for business, science and the public sector, as well as for citizens.
OpenNebula’s role in GAIA-X involves participating in several working groups (i.e. Interconnection and Network, Federated Catalog, and Self-Description) within Workstream 2 ‘Technical implementation’, which is concerned with providing the technical definition of the required reference architecture and to describe the basic technical functionalities of the data infrastructure.
As a pioneering open source project in Europe, OpenNebula is contributing to GAIA-X with its expertise in distributed and federated cloud environments, hyperconverged cloud infrastructures, complex storage and virtual networking architectures, management and automation tools for large cloud deployments, and edge computing.
For more details about GAIA-X, we recommend to have a look at the project’s FAQ section. Questions about our involvement and general comments about this amazing initiative are, as always, very welcome!
Open Source Community Manager at OpenNebula