Frank Leibiger


Push for sovereign digitization

T-Systems and Google Cloud are building a Sovereign Cloud for Germany. This will enable companies to process sensitive data and workloads in a cloud that offers the scalability, innovation and reliability of a public cloud while preserving users' sovereignty over their data. Frank Strecker (T-Systems) and Daniel Holz (Google Cloud) explain exactly what is involved in the offer and how a Sovereign Cloud strengthens the resilience of companies.

The promise of the Sovereign Cloud from T-Systems and Google Cloud is: data sovereignty, operational sovereignty and software sovereignty. What does that mean?

Daniel Holz is responsible for the Google Cloud’s business in Europe’s German-speaking countries and Northern Europe.

Daniel Holz is responsible for the Google Cloud’s business in Europe’s German-speaking countries and Northern Europe.

Holz: Data sovereignty means that we maintain full transparency in the handling of all data. At the same time, our customers have full control over their data. Operational sovereignty means, for example, that the customer or a partner of the customer operates the sovereign applications instead of Google. And software sovereignty means that in the extremely unlikely event of a crisis, you could also use other applications to access your data with us.

Strecker: Our joint Sovereign Cloud can do everything that the Google Cloud public cloud platform can do. In addition, we are building additional services in the first step that increase security. These include external key management for encryption, access services or checking new software (code review). We make sure that the customer gets the sovereignty and security he wants. In this way, we strengthen the resilience of a company in two ways. First, it gets the full flexibility and innovative power of the public cloud of our partner Google. Secondly, they retain control over their data, which we also protect in a special way.

Holz: The key point from our point of view is that we build sovereignty directly into the platform. Every new feature has exactly the functionality that enables T-Systems to control sovereignty. That way, we remain agile and scalable, but also grant users full sovereignty.

That sounds very technical. Can you please put it in concrete terms for the day-to-day operations of a company?

Holz: Let's take a retailer with an online store. In the pandemic, masks are suddenly in high demand, and 10,000 customers want to order from your store at the same time - but that's not possible because the system is only designed for 500 customers paying at the same time. At that point, you can buy more computing power from us. So we scale your business in a highly flexible way, and we will also ensure this scalability with the additional functions for sovereignty.  

Frank Strecker is responsible for T-Systems’ global cloud business.

Frank Strecker is responsible for T-Systems’ global cloud business.

Strecker: Another scenario is the exchange of information with supplier companies or communication with their customers. That raises new questions: Where do I keep this data? How can my partners access it easily and securely? But please not my cloud provider - and certainly not my competitors, keyword resilience! The intelligent sharing of data is becoming increasingly important. Think of autonomous driving. All car manufacturers will need information about traffic, about congestion, about detours. Where do you keep this data? The cloud is one way.

How does the Sovereign Cloud differentiate itself from Gaia-X?

Holz: Gaia-X is not another cloud platform. The initiative will implement policies and values that we are committed to. We will implement many of them concretely with the Sovereign Cloud. We can only be more precise once the Gaia-X standards have been finally defined. We are a so-called Day 1 member, and T-Systems is even one of the founding partners. We are convinced that our offering provides a solution that supports Gaia-X's values for data sovereignty.

Strecker: Gaia-X defines the requirements for concrete cloud solutions. That's why we work with open source, for example, software with open-source code. We don't want to exclude anyone with Gaia-X. It is about advancing the digitization and innovation capability of European industry, but also of the public sector and the healthcare system. We need to strengthen competitiveness - and do so on an international level.

How resilient do you see Germany and Europe in international competition?

Strecker: We have a certain digitalization backlog in Europe. Now a German and an American company are working together to break this logjam. It's about the competitiveness of a country or an economy. I hope we will give an impetus for more speed. In Germany, we talk a lot and try to calculate all the options beforehand. It would be much more important to just get going. On the road to digitization, you can very quickly see what works and what doesn't. But before we set off, we still think about whether a switch will be set correctly 300 kilometers away. This caution inhibits the dynamics of our development.

Holz: I can only confirm that. With our partnership, we want to create new options for authorities and for companies in Germany - and in this way contribute to the modernization of the country.

Priorities are changing. Much of what was once a choice is now a duty.

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