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The CEO series: The Gaia-X Framework Vision Unleashed

Author: Krzysztof Lechowski, Key Research & Comms Expert
Editor in Chief: Vassilia Orfanou, CMO of Gaia-X

The five pillars of openness, transparency, sovereignty, interoperability, and trust serve as the foundation of Gaia-X Framework. We are currently developing a structured federated data space infrastructure ecosystem on top of these pillars. Compliance automation and empowering SMEs and start-ups for fair competitiveness in the free market with the big scalers are essential elements to establishing a data space ecosystem but equally enable sector-specific data spaces.

The core of Gaia-X’s Vision and Strategy is to develop open software that would unite today’s fragmented cloud system. We are developing a common set of policies and rules to be applied to any existing cloud, that would control and govern the system in a federated manner, based on trust, transparency, openness, and security – a system ultimately establishing data sovereignty, decentralisation and further interoperability across services.

But Gaia-X is more than just a cloud software, rules, and a provider of governance solutions. Our values of openness, transparency, sovereignty, interoperability and trust represent the Gaia-X approach in building the next, most aspiring generation of the data ecosystem in Europe and the world. We build the data solution upon the founding European principles – following the path initiated by the founding nations of the EU. Our mission can be embodied in the motto liberty and equality.

We aim to provide liberty to each participant in data exchange. Nowadays, system constrains data in data system silos, often inaccessible and isolated from one another. Hence, we are creating a synergic system where users, providers and all parties involved would have easier data access.

To attain this goal, we must create a data infrastructure ecosystem based on equality, where each actor treats its competitors equally. In the capitalistic, open market economy, naturally, the more robust companies have the leverage over the smaller companies. However, when it comes to data, that is produced by everyone, no matter the size, such an attitude is counterproductive. Large corporations, though, tend to monopolise data and software, which makes the data silos inaccessible and uninterpretable for the companies that do not necessarily use the same software, especially when it comes to small and medium companies, SMEs, and start-ups.

Therefore, when considering the above and equally the fact that data is already an integral part of our daily lives, we can easily understand that its conglomeration, inaccessibility and uninterpretability restrict its value for the greater community

As a result, we can safely say that we can only make use of the data’s potential if it is shared. Personal data, like a company or a research institution, may be readily corrupted, as many of us have observed in the last decade. Shared information, which may possibly improve public transportation and vehicle movement in the city, or link medical research centres with hospitals to personalise treatment or medicine, is vulnerable to adverse influence in such situations. As a result, Gaia- X’s most important role is to work with stakeholders of all sizes-small, medium, and large – to develop compliance rules for the internet of the future.

Since its inception back in 2021, Gaia-X’s concept has extended its hubs’ framework (17), member base (350) and Lighthouses (an initial 6 set-up and an ultimate 10 project base on the basis of 12 criteria in place).To create a federated data ecosystem, national, and international hubs, members and lighthouses are crucial. Through their participation, contribution, support and resulting business impact, the vision of a Gaia-X framework moves from a vision to a mission and a concrete reality, already in progress by the end of 2022, the adoption year of Gaia-X.

This alongside the Gaia-X Labelling criteria and the overall Labelling framework and policy rules encourages market competition by promoting visibility and distinctiveness, which are grounded in trusted relationships between customers and providers. Gaia-X simplifies existing regulations by automating the process of compliance by creating an algorithm-based network of verifiable assertions using linked data representation and verifiable credentials, from which additional trust and composability indices will be automatically computed. We are working to provide “regulation by automation”.

As such, it goes without saying that the future of data must have a human face for the human race. Thus, Gaia-X and its’ Data Space Business Committee, Policy Rules and Technical Committees and their resulting 19 working groups work diligently to provide the Labelling framework and criteria, Policy Rules, Trust Framework, and Architecture components to make the Gaia-X framework viable across most business services and sectors. Through our efforts, each user and provider will adhere to clear, understandable, interchangeable rules that would follow governmental and intergovernmental policies.

What we do today might seem futuristic, but tomorrow is inevitable. We cannot achieve the goal without the engagement of institutions and companies from various industries, hence why we are creating the Gaia-X framework, where users and service providers can join up their cloud infrastructures in a trusted manner, to offer a distributed and decentralise cloud model and resulting business services across a multitude of sectors. Through federations, data owners (users) can exchange and utilise their data with commonly agreed-upon rules and control on whom and for what purpose, access should be granted, hence providing solutions from the people to the people.

The last two years’ build-up, as well as the overarching vision and strategy, have as their goal of closing the gap between big scalers, SMEs, and start-ups. Putting them on an equal footing by making laws simpler, offering financial possibilities, and allowing them to take part in the creation of future cloud solutions that comply with the Gaia-X framework that has already in place the necessary specifications to make this happen in the first place. We want start-ups and SMEs to get visibility and the critical mass necessary to extract value from data thanks to the federated approach. Thanks to the trust they develop through Gaia-X deliverables, including the labels and the open-source reference software, the SME ecosystem may expand its market reach and give a competitive advantage over major companies of customers and suppliers.

To build lasting solutions, it is paramount to listen to all sides equally, as Gaia-X was founded on the principle of inclusion, non-discrimination, and equality of all members regardless of a small, medium or large set-up. Every firm in the world may join Gaia-X and actively contribute to its development. Each European member organisation can also have a representative on the Board of Directors. This strategic move intends to help Gaia-X achieve its long-term goal of providing people with a viable data environment. In addition, it ensures Europe’s digital future and resulting digital economy.

This year “We are entering the beginning stages of our growth year and as we outlined when I started heading Gaia-X”, Francesco Bonfiglio, the CEO of Gaia-X, recently said.

The Vision and Strategy Document provides a detailed discussion as this was laid out by the Gaia-X CEO, Francesco Bonfiglio when he started running Gaia-X. 2021 was a year of Setting up “the initial description of the architecture, of the core services (federation services in particular) and starting the initial project that will target the creation of Gaia-X services in the market (Data Space lighthouse projects).”  he said.

Currently, we are adopting and developing “the core components of the Gaia-X architecture, to enable the first Data Space services can be run in the market. We start the first federation of infrastructures to build the baseline where these services can run. And we start new Data Space projects to start developing Gaia-X marketplaces.” Francesco Bonfiglio highlighted.

An increasing number of members attests to the realisation of our vision and propels us to go on to the third stage of our five-year plan.

In 2023, the growth year – we will enhance our practice to engage services that are compliant with the criteria labelling criteriaarchitecture and trust frameworkarchitecture a policy rules document and federation services that frame the Gaia-X to support and engage towards the delivery of business services in this direction. Our members would be able to deliver or adopt Gaia-X services on that basis, which by default will bring further industrialisation, innovation, transformation, and business impact. Beginning next year, January 1 2022, the growth year, would be a turning point in turning the Gaia-X specifications into concrete, viable and replicated business services from industry to industry and cross-industry. It will allow us – our current and new members, Hubs, Lighthouses and all necessary stakeholders and parties interested to help us expand and scale in the fourth and fifth years of implementation.

Gaia-X was born to discover untapped territories and lead by a positive example. A federated data ecosystem causes good changes in the market so that it can grow into something that we all want to be part of and obviously leverage from. As a result, Gaia-X is developing a much different open-source reality that will promote equality, inclusion, openness, and transparency based on standardisation, decentralisation and alignment with European values.

Last but not least, it is among our priorities to give small and medium-sized businesses a voice. SMEs represent 99% of all business in the EUaround 90% globally, and contribute up to 40% of GDP in emerging economies.  This is why we intend to fully enable SMEs to compete on an equal footing with the market’s largest companies.

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