Working together to build a new generation digital ecosystem
Together with other stakeholders, DE-CIX is supporting the GAIA-X project, an ambitious initiative that aims at creating an efficient, secure, and trustworthy data and infrastructure ecosystem in Europe. GAIA-X’s mission is to strengthen digital sovereignty for business, science, government and society by empowering the development of innovation ecosystems. Digital sovereignty means that individuals, organizations and communities within these sectors stay in complete control over stored and processed data and are enabled to take independent decisions on who is permitted to have access to it. Furthermore, the initiative aims to
- reduce dependencies,
- increase transparency and attractiveness of digital services,
- and bring together digital infrastructures to foster innovation.
Achieving digital sovereignty
In order to achieve digital sovereignty, GAIA-X focuses on the creation of guidelines, policies, and a technical target architecture, which includes federation services according to requirements for data and infrastructure ecosystems. GAIA-X develops an architecture of standards and describes and aligns the standards and codes of conduct being used, enforces data usage policies, develops a federated catalogue service with a uniform and provider-agnostic interface, ensures the identity and access management of GAIA-X entities, aims at enabling interoperability and interconnection as well as the portability of infrastructure, applications, and data across service providers, thus supporting the free-flow of data.
The intention of GAIA-X is to implement an infrastructure ecosystem that offers the highest standards in regards to security, latency, and bandwidth for data and digital services.
A multinational, multi-access, and multi-service interconnection universe
GAIA-X wants to give users the authority to decide where their data is stored and how it is sent from A to B while using multiple, certified digital applications and services. This is achieved by creating an infrastructure and a service landscape that bypasses the Internet, offering guaranteed latency and stable bandwidths through direct connections between data centers.
The role of DE-CIX: delivering the ecosystem blueprint
DE-CIX operates carrier and data center neutral Internet Exchanges, and we have already built interconnection ecosystems like this; the DE-CIX Apollon platform in Frankfurt for example
- is spread over more than 30 data centers,
- is the center of an ecosystem that interconnects almost 1,000 networks including application providers, cloud providers, content delivery networks, and many more,
- offers secure access to over 50 cloud service providers, bypassing the Internet, with guaranteed latency and bandwidth,
- enables companies to establish Closed User Groups (federations) in order to exchange data directly with selected, trusted partners, or to install logically-separated services.
What we already offer at our more than 20 locations worldwide, accessible from over 1,600 data centers in 500 cities in 80+ countries: This is what GAIA-X itself wants to enlarge for even more data centers, in more regions in Europe, for more applications and services, combined with a certification of services and, especially, a portal where users can choose the services they need.
Getting started and onboarding partners
As DE-CIX can already comply with a lot of the requirements that GAIA-X is anticipating of a future data and infrastructure ecosystem, we will contribute to the project with our interconnection ecosystem and will enable further services like – Closed User Groups, for example for the automotive industry. In addition, we will try to bring more Internet Exchanges on board the project.
Data sovereignty is the key to GAIA-X. Especially given that our society is relying more and more heavily on digital services, it is in the interest of a state or a region to enable a certain level of independence from external service providers. So GAIA-X would bundle the existing European cloud solutions and spawn innovative cloud solutions.
This is why DE-CIX is supporting the German federal government, together with other key businesses and scientists, in striving for an efficient and competitive, secure and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe. As part of the GAIA-X project, the basics for building an interconnected, open data infrastructure based on European values are being developed. It is important for the method of data distribution and storage to be better under the control of the user and data owner. This is why politicians and the industry are calling for a European effort to regain sovereignty over its data – especially production and industry-related data. GAIA-X has been conceived for this purpose.
Digital sovereignty in the form of powerful and secure digital infrastructures is a key success factor and decisive for the future viability of Europe as a business location. Europe needs an intelligent mix of digital infrastructure providers and a strengthening of the location for providers of such offers. Therefore, we believe that user companies – whether SMEs, global players, or even the public administration themselves – need such an orientation with regard to the availability of trustworthy infrastructures – from edge computing to cloud computing, and on to hyperscalers – in order to make confident business decisions in times of digital transformation.
We can envisage new concepts that could revolutionize the cost and security level of future cloud and security services. The benefits of GAIA-X will be to put data into the cloud, but also to rethink the interconnection and infrastructure strategy, as many leading companies are already doing. While this will include extensive upfront investments, it will pay off in the end.
The key to GAIA-X will be for the company (or public administration) to have much greater control over data and the way it is distributed – securely and without high latencies. Today, data in the cloud is often available via the browser-based Internet. This limits control over the connection to the data, because the data travels via the public Internet. In the public Internet, data is routed automatically along many and variable paths – and it is not possible for the owner of the data to control the route that the data travels along. One solution is a point-to-point connection. However, while this is more secure, it also leads via the Internet.
A much better solution is a direct connection via an Internet Exchange between the user and provider, for example. This is secure and fast – with very low latency – and offers control over the pathway that the data takes. This approach also works for “one-to-many” communication, i.e. the service provider connects directly to many users via the exchange, and the users in return can connect directly to many service providers. It also means that an enterprise can connect securely with its entire set of partners along its value chain in a federated manner. The Internet Exchange acts as a mediator within this Internet federation. In this way, a virtual “federation layer” is created, which uses the same protocols and technologies as the Internet, but makes the path of the data more transparent and gives the possibility to secure these federations. So you can “build your own Internet.”
GAIA-X includes the existing cloud infrastructure but will also include new technologies. GAIA-X will have two layers – one is the application layer on which the users will interact with their service, and the other is the infrastructure layer consisting of interconnected data centers with flexible and dynamic bandwidths, creating a virtual European cloud infrastructure.
Since DE-CIX already lives the vision of an ecosystem, DE-CIX and GAIA-X fit together not only on the technical level, but also on the conceptual level. Therefore, an integration of DE-CIX into the GAIA-X system makes sense and is a blueprint for how other interconnection providers can integrate themselves into GAIA-X. DE-CIX therefore offers the following contributions to the project:
- Integration of the DE-CIX platform into GAIA-X: DE-CIX will make its interconnection platform available in GAIA-X. By accessing the DE-CIX platform, more than 1800 service providers (data centers, carriers, SD-WAN, Internet Service Providers) will be opened up for GAIA-X immediately. This already includes 68 cloud service providers, among them Microsoft, AWS, and SAP. The portal to be developed for GAIA-X will automatically link the service providers with each other, and thus represents the decisive, innovative, and future-oriented unique selling point for GAIA-X.
- Federation of further IXPs: Although DE-CIX owns the world’s largest IXP ecosystem, there are other IXP ecosystems, especially within Europe, which represent additional value for GAIA-X. Examples are AMS-IX in Amsterdam or France-IX in Paris. DE-CIX offers to address and integrate further IXPs to form a federation within GAIA-X. A federation of the 10 largest IXP ecosystems in Europe would bring the number of accessible service providers up to 2800 and would enable a Europe-wide, gapless use of GAIA-X applications at the lowest possible infrastructure costs.
- Secure communication for verticals: DE-CIX provides closed user groups in GAIA-X to enable individual verticals, such as the medical and pharmaceutical sector or the automotive industry, to connect in isolated but still powerful communication infrastructures. This mainly serves the purpose of secure data exchange and makes it easier to get started with GAIA-X when it comes to exchanging sensitive data.