Europe’s Gaia-X Counters Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud

Several Europe countries and 22 local technology companies are uniting to promote Gaia-X, which may deliver cloud services alternatives to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba Cloud.

Gaia-X’s overall goal: Establish local cloud standards and a federated data infrastructure for Europe — thereby reducing the region’s dependence on U.S.- and China-based technology giants.

Early Gaia-X backers include the governments of Germany and France, plus such companies as Dassault Systemes, Orange, Siemens, SAP, Robert Bosch, Atos, Scaleway, and Deutsche Telekom, Data Center Dynamics reports.

The Gaia-X push is set up as a non-profit organization. The group will focus on such key goals as “reversibility” — which would allow customers to easily switch cloud providers.  OVHcloud further describe the promise of Gaia-X here.

For European MSPs and IT service providers, the Gaia-X effort could provide new ways to safely store, monitor and manage customer data — while minimizing concerns about information leakage to U.S.-based CSPs.

Europe Seeks Digital, Cloud Independence

“We are not China, we are not the United States; we are European countries with our own values and with our own economic interest that we want to defend,” France Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said in Paris in a joint video news conference, Reuters reports.

In a prepared statement, Atos CEO Elie Girard added:

“Europe’s digital leadership in the data economy requires flexible and secure Cloud capabilities. By facilitating infrastructure, application and data portability, GAIA-X will enable European businesses and public administrations to share their decentralized data in a reliable and secure way, boosting Cloud adoption and the creation of value-added ecosystems. This will strengthen Europe’s competitiveness because the approach is unprecedented, driven by industrials, collaborative with hyperscalers, and aims at defining a reasonable set of policies and standards consistent with European values and aspirations.”

Concluded Scaleway CEO Yann Lechelle:

“We are very proud to provide our infrastructure and digital capacity to the Gaia-X project. Scaleway has more than 20 years of industry expertise, with its own energy-efficient data centers, bare metal servers and public cloud, and a range of “multi-cloud”-ready solutions. Our vision is to provide collectively, with the other members of Gaia-X, at least one-third of the European demand, and if we are ambitious, one-third of the demand from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. We need to establish a balance on the supply side and move away from oligopoly so that we can collectively have a voice in building the IT infrastructure of tomorrow – in Europe and the world. Gaia-X is an important step in realizing this essential sovereignty. Gaia-X will enable its members to be referenced consistently, allowing European customers to choose from a set of local and mature offers easily. Customers deserve European-level transparency, data protection, reversibility, and security. Besides that, they need to gain resilience in the overall infrastructure. Being able to adapt and adjust their operational requirements safely in the event of geopolitical conflicts, such as the recent tensions between the US and China and the COVID-19 crisis, is a key factor. In the spirit of Gaia-X, we have chosen the open, multi-cloud approach, where customers have full control over their business. Supplier lock-in is unacceptable. For the European cloud, this is the way forward: together, with ambition.”

Gaia-X Services: Target Launch Date

Initial Gaia-X services are set to arrive in 2021. Still, it’s unclear if a non-profit organization — backed by multiple vendors and countries — can keep pace with hyper-focused public cloud providers that continually release new code innovations.

Gartner, for one, suggests that major AWS and other major public cloud providers have already gained critical mass in Europe.


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    Joseph Landes:

    It will be interesting to see what sort of traction this sort of consortium can gain competing with hyper-scale cloud providers. The benefit a company or partner receives from betting on public cloud is tied up in the hyper-scale ability of the provider, the resilience, the choices, and much more. Let’s check back in a year and see what sort of progress they have made.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Joseph: Thanks for your readership and the comment. I certainly understand Europe’s desire to drive local innovation, local data privacy/compliance and local freedom of IT choice. So on paper something like Gaia-X makes sense.

    But my personal opinion: The major publicly held CSPs from North American will continue to accelerate in Europe because they already have critical mass, and their pace of innovation is unmatched.

    During the early days of public cloud computing, emerging alternatives like OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus all vowed to provide open, vendor-neutral opens that allowed users to build their own clouds and/or move their workloads more easily between clouds. Again, it all looked good on paper. But proprietary public clouds won the day.

    What does that mean for the current Gaia-X effort? Pure speculation on my part, but perhaps there is some sort of middle ground here — where Gaia-X-endorsed technologies run as a layer within AWS, Azure and/or Google Cloud. It could be something akin to the VMware Cloud for AWS effort.

    We’ll be watching.

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