GAIA-X: A European Cloud without European Software Providers?

The Gaia-X project has the potential to have a major impact on the regulation of the cloud market in the world and digital independence in Europe, provided that it integrates a European industrial perspective. It is essential to reduce Gaia-X's dependence on American technologies for which comparable or more advanced equivalents exist in Europe. The Free Software Endowment Fund (FDL) recommends European providers of Cloud, Edge or VRAN technologies to join the Gaia-X project in order to make their technologies and competences visible and to avoid that public funds are used to their disadvantage.


Paris, July 14th, 2020 - FDL has published an analysis on the GAIA-X initiative after in-depth analysis at the overall concept and participating contributors of what should eventually become a federated data infrastructure for Europe and standard for data portabiblity in the market for cloud and edge computation. FDL recommends European open source software publishers to join the GAIA-X project to ensure that this European standard is not built by solely relying on non-European software solutions. 

In its analysis, the FDL points out the relativ imblanace of German versus French participants and contributors - especially on SMU level. Although France and Europe in general boast a vibrant ecosystem of not only software publishers but also hardware manufacturers working in fields relevant to GAIA-X, these SMUs and their industrial dimension are visibly absent from the project. Furthermore, as most of the participants are mere technology users and to a large degree dependent on foreign solutions in key technological areas, there is a signifikant risk that public funding acquired by the Gaia-X project will be used to the detriment of European SMUs. This has happened in the past on numerous occasions, most notably during the French Andromeda project, which ended up with French industrials financing foreign technologies (OpenStack) over domestic alternatives and using public money to force local SMUs out of the market.

The initiative however has many positive aspects, which is why the FDL recommends SMUs to join the initiative. Depending on the direction of the Gaia-X project:

  • a European Gaia-X "label" that would allows to compare and comprehend Cloud service contrats would have a significant effect on market transparence
  • a federated catalog of data based on standardised lexika that allows to access and monetise data would go long way towards making ideas such as industry 4.0 a reality
  • a vendor independent, standard definition of low level, intelligent services would greatly increase portability and reversability of data on a cloud

Jean-Paul Smets, president of FDL: "The Gaia-X project is a very interesting initiative, because it has the potential to adress many shortcomings in todays cloud and edge computing infrastructure. However with the current setup and missing industrial dimension, the project also has significant potential to create yet another OpenStack built on american and asian technologies and using public funding to destroy domestic software and hardware SMUs who oftern already provide superior solutions to components, that Gaia-X or participants might eventually try to adress. If the idea of European sovereignty in technological fields is more than just a lip-service, SMUs from all European countries should be allowed to contribute to the project while public funding should be constrained to actually benefit the European ecosystem of software publishers and hardware manufacturers."

References

About FDL

FDL (Fonds de Dotation du Libre) is a french non-profit organisation to sponsor both the long term maintenance of essential free software as well as the short-term feature development - handled through it's sister association AWL (Association pour un Web Libre). Both associations aim to use tax breaks for donations made to general use and essential open source software to fill the gap between public R&D funding and private system integration funding. 

More information: https://fdl-lef.org/