- I&T: 3DS Outscale is one of the 22 Franco-German founding members of the GAIA-X project. Why did you say yes?
- In 2012, Dassault Systèmes closed the door on Andromède, the sovereign cloud project led by the French government. Why is GAIA-X more likely to succeed?
- Does the future GAIA-X platform not risk 3DS Outscale highlighting direct competitors with customers, current or potential?
- It’s an ambitious and complex project. How will this infrastructure compete with offers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, which stand out for their simplicity?
- Have customers made specific commitments?
- What benefits will manufacturers derive from such a platform?
I&T: 3DS Outscale is one of the 22 Franco-German founding members of the GAIA-X project. Why did you say yes?
Servane Augier: The principle of GAIA-X being to federate an offer with all the cloud players, mainly European, it was logical for Dassault Systèmes and 3DS Outscale to participate in this project as a cloud operator in France focused on the subjects of confidence. It is the continuity of what we have been around for 10 years. Especially since Bruno Le Maire counted a lot on us.
As a founding member, we intend to participate in defining the rules. Indeed, this federation is created around societies that accept to play with the rules that Europe defines, articulated around transparency, interoperability, reversibility and trust. We have already participated in working groups upstream and we will continue to help define the framework, direction, governance and ambitions of GAIA-X.
Then we would like to take advantage of the sound box GAIA-X offers. Cloud offers in Europe, there are plenty and they are very fragmented and less visible than those of Gafam. The objective of GAIA-X is also to highlight the existence of this offer which has immense qualities of technicality, security, qualification, industrial expertise but which still lacks visibility.
In 2012, Dassault Systèmes closed the door on Andromède, the sovereign cloud project led by the French government. Why is GAIA-X more likely to succeed?
When it was launched in 2011, Dassault Systèmes was very interested in the subject of a sovereign cloud. The group then slammed the door of the Andromède project because it disagreed with the way it should be operated: the fact that there are two entities instead of one[[Cloudwatt, founded by Orange and Thales, ceased operations in February 2020 and Numergy, by SFR and Bull, was entirely bought out by the former in 2016, editor’s note].
The Andromède project also suffered from this choice, but also from the fact that there were no orders, opposite the offer. By means of subsidies, we tried to bring out technological solutions – while others already had the technology – without matching it to a clear demand.
The GAIA-X project is already on a larger scale, Europe. It is not intended to subsidize the creation of an offer – it already exists. And, above all, the demand comes with the project. There is no subsidy but potential orders, and this is much more promising.
Does the future GAIA-X platform not risk 3DS Outscale highlighting direct competitors with customers, current or potential?
The problem must be seen more generally, it seems to me. Let me give you three figures: 65% of European data is from Gafam, 95% of European companies are implementing migration projects in the cloud and, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself said , only 5% of global IT budgets are spent on the cloud – which is nothing at all. Thus, we can see that the potential is before us. Europeans must be given a vision of the domestic offer which they can benefit from and which they do not use enough today.
Since the creation of Outscale in 2010, we have proven our know-how. Our cloud is now able to serve the largest customers of Dassault Systèmes and many administrations. We are the first to receive, in November 2019, the SecNumCloud label, issued by the Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi). A real accelerator of business contacts and the ultimate guarantee for choosing with confidence a cloud offer rather than a homemade project. We no longer have to demonstrate that our offer is attractive, and this is the case for many of our colleagues.
GAIA-X should be seen as an equivalent to insurance comparison websites. Today, if you’re looking to buy insurance, you can look at all the offers from the ones you already know, but you might miss an offer that suits you simply because you didn’t have the knowledge, while you can find all the offers on a comparator. With GAIA-X, all the cloud offers will appear first, but, moreover, you will be sure that they respect a set of basic rules.
It’s an ambitious and complex project. How will this infrastructure compete with offers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, which stand out for their simplicity?
Yes, undeniably, technical architecture can seem very complex. However, we are confident about GAIA-X’s ability to compete with other offers.
First, because the interoperability dynamic is already taking shape, in concrete terms. Work is already progressing: we unveiled a demonstrator on June 4, during the official announcement. It may not be impressive at first, but it means bringing together a whole group of cloud providers to determine the choice of a standard and agree to make some changes in our systems to make sure we are able to go back a typology of information.
Then, because the industry is there! Customers are stakeholders in the project. The founding members are not 22 cloud service providers but a few providers and many manufacturers and industry associations. Not to mention that more than 300 companies are involved in the working groups. Thus, we are certain, from the genesis of the GAIA-X project, that it meets needs, expectations, which promises to generate contracts thereafter.
Have customers made specific commitments?
Not really, no. The objective is not to sign agreements with his blood but to be in phase on the direction to take. Without a doubt, most of the founding members of GAIA-X are clients of Gafam. But they are all worried about the sovereignty and security of their data and have expressed the wish to see the emergence of a European offer.
The founding members invest financially to create the GAIA-X entity, which takes all of us a lot of time; nobody does this to do nothing with it. They come with their needs and have already started to develop use cases.
Besides, Americans can be members of GAIA-X, if they play with the rules laid down. Some already participate in certain working groups at present.
What benefits will manufacturers derive from such a platform?
They will be sure that the operators they will work with will not be subject to extra-European regulations, such as the American Cloud Act or any other extraterritoriality of American law, in particular on dollar transactions. Today, in France, we tend to believe little in the risk of industrial espionage and economic war. However, these are realities, highlighted by the report by MP Raphaël Gauvain.
It is important to have a European offer which allows European companies to work in the economic context that Europe allows and not that which the United States imposes.
Competition is also something precious. The IT Club of large French companies (Cigref) insisted that certain large American cloud publishers or providers were abusing their position on opacity and increased billings. The challenge for Cigref and French companies is to have an offer in competition with American offers which allows to keep a more balanced relationship with its supplier. Of course, it will be registered in the rules of GAIA-X the ban on owner confinement: tomorrow, if your supplier decides to increase his prices, you will be able to switch from one supplier to another easily.