The project is as ambitious as its name: GAIA-X. Derived from Gaia, the earth goddess of Greek mythology, the name stands for the construction of a European data infrastructure. GAIA-X is intended to create a cross-border ecosystem, something like a co-working space for algorithms - an agile "WeWork for data". The initiative was presented a year ago at the Federal Government's Digital Summit. Now the first results are available.
"We are creating a next-generation data ecosystem for Europe with a global claim," Hubert Tardieu, interim CEO of the supporting organization GAIA-X AISBL (in formation), said at the Gaia X Summit last week. Around 4,000 participants networked virtually to discuss the political, economic and technical challenges. The goal is to establish a data ecosystem according to European standards that ensures data sovereignty in Europe.
Claudia Nemat, member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom responsible for Technology and Innovation, therefore emphasized: "We need this ecosystem if we are not to be left behind in future fields such as artificial intelligence. For Europe's economy to remain competitive, it must use its own data intelligently. We need a secure and sovereign, Europe-wide exchange of data in order to work with it and develop innovative business models in Europe".
Gold standard for networking
The idea has caught fire: The original 22 founding members, including Deutsche Telekom, have now been joined by more than 350 European companies and organizations. The major American and Chinese cloud providers also committed themselves to Gaia X at the summit. They have obviously understood that the gold standard for a sovereign data economy may be emerging here, one that relies on networking rather than isolation.
There is currently no lack of important political support. The Ministers of Economics of Germany and France, Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire, as well as EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, provide significant support for GAIA-X. But Claudia Nemat emphasized that this is also necessary if the ecosystem is to grow rapidly. The first products from the "WeWork of data" are to be available next summer. "The decisive success factor is the demand for such a data infrastructure," emphasized Claudia Nemat. "This is where the public sector comes in. The public sector and the healthcare sector should make greater use of GAIA-X compliant services and set a good example in this respect". For the companies involved, it is important to ensure that the technical structuring is set up as quickly as possible "for doing".
Applications in the field of mobility and education
In other words: Usage scenarios and business models must now also be developed quickly. An "auto cloud" for closer networking in the automotive industry would be conceivable. One use case would be to ensure quality management in cooperation with suppliers. Or a "school cloud" for better digital education. Here the focus is not on the idea of data sharing, but on data sovereignty and data security. The past few months have shown us all that we will be more dependent on virtual teaching formats in the future. Speaking of data security: Deutsche Telekom is already working with its French partner OVHCloud to build a sovereign public cloud. This would be suitable for data-sensitive applications in the public sector, for example.
A few agile sprints are still needed, no question. But things are moving forward with Gaia X. The next update is scheduled for the German government's digital summit on November 30 and December 1.
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