GXFS Connect: Nucleus for Europe’s Data Economy

By Nils Klute, IT Editor and Project Manager Communications at EuroCloud Deutschland

Orchestrating value networks to realise new business models and produce more sustainably is exactly what the Gaia-X-Federation Services project (GXFS) is realising as the nucleus of software for Gaia-X. Klaus Ottradovetz from Atos, Ernst Stöckl-Pukall from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and Harald A. Summa from the eco Association discussed why Europe needs Gaia-X at the GXFS Connect in Berlin.

Gaia-X delivers.  We publish software that works,” said Andreas Weiss, Head of Digital Business Models at eco – Association of the Internet Industry.  Gaia-X is aiming for the big picture.  “Gaia-X is the tool for Europe’s data economy, said Peter Kraemer of Gaia-X Hub Germany.  Why the connected and distributed data infrastructure is necessary for this: “Because Gaia-X, for example, harmonises the legal regime, speeds up testing procedures and automates business processes across the board,” said Oliver Süme, Chair of the Board at eco Association.  “This is the only way the data economy can get going at all.” The experts discussed just how fast Europe’s digital economy is already moving at GXFS Connect 2022 in Berlin.

Gaia-X needs a European brand core

Regardless of whether it’s a single company, a group of companies or an entire national economy, the automotive, Internet or cloud industries – in order to harmonise different requirements and corporate interests, Gaia-X needs one thing above all else: “A European brand core,” said Iris Plöger, a member of the Executive Board at the Federation of German Industries.  In order to balance the economy and the environment: “Sustainability is value-driven,” said Alexander Rabe, Managing Director at the eco Association.  Thus, Gaia-X also presupposes an equally value-driven culture of collaboration.  “Gaia-X is not an IT project,” underlines Roland Fadrany, COO at Gaia-X AISBL.  “Instead, we are encoding European attitudes and sovereignty in software.” Software that is now available for the first time: The GXFS project led by the eco Association is implementing a nucleus of open services on which all data-driven products will be based.  At the two-day event, the 500 or so guests had the possibilities presented to them on-site and on the live stream.

Panel Discussion: Gaia-X is the backbone of Europe’s digital future

Orchestrating Europe’s value networks with digital sovereignity is not only in order to realise business models, but to produce more sustainably: “Gaia-X is a coordination masterpiece,” said Ernst Stöckl-Pukall, Head of Unit for Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).  “We started before the COVID pandemic, but later squinted our eyes in video conferences,” said Harald A. Summa, CEO of the eco Association.  It is not an easy task “because Gaia-X solves a multidimensional problem,” said Klaus Ottradovetz, Cloud & IoT Platforms Expert at Atos.  An issue that all countries, companies, and industries are struggling with is deriving value from data.  Together, the three experts from government, the Internet and the digital economy discussed why Gaia-X infrastructures and services are the backbones of our future.

Gaia-X can hardly succeed overnight

“Gaia-X has come a long way and the first software is there,” Stöckl-Pukall said, “but we haven’t realised our vision yet.” The reason is: “If you’re working with taxpayers’ money, you have to follow guidelines, which is time-consuming.” Summa says: “The Covid pandemic has forced us to virtually dump our expertise.” What helped in this regard: “I’m a born optimist,” Summa said, “and I speak from experience.” For example, Summa first connected Germany’s economy with the Internet in the 1990s.  “No one recognised the opportunities of the World Wide Web at the time,” Summa said.  It’s no different today: “If you want to bring all of Europe’s value chains together digitally, you’re unlikely to succeed overnight either.” This makes you believe in success: “Looking out into the packed audience,” Ottradovetz said, “the software and the people who will work with it are here today.”

“When we no longer have to discuss Gaia-X, we will have reached our goal”.

Whether compliance, governance, technology, or infrastructure issues: “Everyone should be able to do what they want with their data,” Stöckl-Pukall said.  To this end, Gaia-X breaks down information silos and allows data spaces to grow together.  What’s in focus for policymakers: “Not Gaia-X itself, but everything that will enable it.” For example, the automotive industry is merging its information flows in the project, to produce more sustainably with fewer resources.  As does Marispace-X: The project connects different maritime data ecosystems, for example, to recover old munition stock from the sea.  “Gaia-X is the central building block,” Stöckl-Pukall said, “if we don’t have to discuss Gaia-X anymore, we’re there.”

Gaia-X: Decentralized, sovereign and resilient

A discussion that is still necessary so far also because of many questions about the success of the initiative.  “Doubters will always exist,” Summa said, “and so will the need to question oneself.” Take the gas crisis, for example: “Centralised systems create dependencies, which can become risks,” Summa said.  Decentralised and distributed approaches, on the other hand, are more sovereign and resilient.  “Gaia-X is no different,” Summa said, “the federated GXFS services keep the infrastructure together and diversify all the services exactly as users and providers need them.”

eco Association launches its Gaia-X Roadshow

Stöckl-Pukall: “Monopolies don’t have to solve these kinds of challenges.” Summa: “Here, individuals dictate the terms for all.” “Europe’s strength is union,” Stöckl-Pukall said.  “At the end of the day, Gaia-X offers equal opportunities to all,” Ottradovetz said, “everyone can participate and add their voice.” That definitely makes development challenging, but: “This is the only way to produce a result with high relevance for all participants.” “That’s the only way this thing is going to be a success,” Summa said.  “Just as I united the friends of the Internet in the eco Association 25 years ago, Gaia-X must now unite the friends of the data economy.” To achieve this, the eco Association will gather the German Gaia-X community at its Gaia-X Roadshow in the coming months (such as on 20 October in Munich and 30 November 2022 in Frankfurt).

Managing crises and driving the future

It is certain that “Gaia-X is the biggest industrial policy project of the decade,” said Rebekka Weiß, Head of Trust & Security at  Bitkom. Figures from Gartner show why the work is necessary: Accordingly, the global market share of non-European hyperscalers is currently more than 80 per cent.  “Germany and Europe need digital sovereignty,” said Dr Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs.  At the same time, the urgency should not obscure the view of what is important.  Whether energy or data monopolies: “While we need to manage crises today, we also need to drive the future.” The software tools developed by the GXFS project are publicly available in Gitlab: https://gitlab.com/gaia-x/data-infrastructure-federation-services


On the picture: (f.l.t.r.), Claudia van Veen, Klaus Ottradovetz (Atos) as moderators, Ernst Stöckl-Pukall (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)) and Harald A. Summa (eco Association)


GXFS Connect: Nucleus for Europe’s Data Economy