On the Road Towards a United Cloud for Europe







On the Road Towards a United Cloud for Europe

Author: Janis Tupulis, Solution Architect

Over 15 years of information technology (IT) infrastructure development we have gone from physical servers to cloud solutions. Now it’s time for the next step – federated clouds. The main benefit – easy usage of multiple cloud solutions across collaborating organizations. There are even talks about a joint European federated cloud. This would create enormous export opportunities for companies providing innovative technology solutions.

15 years ago, the three main IT infrastructure elements – computing, network and data storage – were provided using physical servers, network devices and data storage devices. Over time software developments enabled resource virtualization and orchestration or centralized management of various resources – cloud solutions were created. They substitute physical hardware with virtual devices for the delivery of key infrastructure elements, for example, splitting the computing power of one server into smaller portions and distributing those across multiple clients. The same principle is the basis of a federated cloud too.

In search for more computing power
Organizations are faced with demand for many requests in a short amount of time more and more often that sometimes exceeds the computing power at hand. These situations require the employment of external resources that are only used for the demand peak periods and are disengaged afterwards. A cloud solution can provide this type of service, offering resources on demand.

A federated cloud expands that offer by uniting the resources of multiple organizations into interconnected cloud environments where resources can be split and provided as required. The objective is to achieve situation where the organization in need of computing resources connects to the federation provider service, makes a request for the additional resources, and the system provides them. Scalability makes access to resources virtually limitless. Everything is automated and happens quickly.

Towards GAIA-X
Data is highly valued these days and for years its management and storage has been provided by such US-based technology giants as Amazon and Google. Discussions are taking place regarding the creation of a united European federated cloud to boost Europe’s competitiveness in the age of data economics. Germany and France have presented their vision and architecture features, 22 companies and organizations have confirmed their readiness to take part. The GAIA-X project is set out to create a federated cloud based on open standards and open source software.

A big focus area for GAIA-X is data accessibility – open data should be available to everyone; partially open data should be shareable and available through authorization. When setting up GAIA-X, a strong cooperation is going to be created between the three main economic pillars – public administration, private sector businesses and the academia. All the key players will be interconnected to enable data and resource sharing between them. For example, a company might require specific data on the habits of the population and companies to improve its competitiveness. By using the interconnected data, the company could retrieve this information by simply making a request to the public sector and then improve its services. To analyze this data, the company might require powerful computing resources. The federated cloud would once again come to aid as it could provide the additional power required for the duration of the analysis.

The federated cloud creates an opportunity for significant information technology infrastructure improvements on a national level. This is an important moment for European countries to apply for participation in the GAIA-X project that will be a part of other European initiatives, e.g., the introduction of the single digital market. The single digital market will enable the businesses of the participant countries to create information systems or their modules in a joint federated cloud and provide them to partners and consumers in other participant countries. This is an opportunity for Latvian companies as well.