New European data initiative open to the world

Gaia-X is a pan-European project aimed at offering a standardised approach to data sovereignty. Supported by the French and German governments, and with 180 companies behind it, could it dent the US dominance of the cloud market?

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It has long been a bone of contention for Europe that the US is the dominant force in the world of computing. Despite so many of the pioneers of the technology, all the major players are from the other side of the Atlantic and European companies have had to trail in their wake.

This has been particularly noticeable since the advent of cloud computing. All the hyperscaler companies that are shaking up the IT world are US-based and that leaves European customers with little choice.

In particular, they're concerned at what's happening to data. There's a genuine concern for European users and European companies over control of data – it's seen as a market advantage that shouldn't be swallowed up by American competitors.

That's why late in 2019, the French and German governments kick-started a new project aimed at giving European organisations more control over their data. The GDPR legislation enshrined some level of control but European governments and enterprises wanted to take things one stage further and introduce a new digital ecosystem for the sharing of data and services across Europe.

The project, named Gaia-X has the aim of establishing common standards across the continent, and it held its first summit at the end of November, looking to set out how its members can go forward.

Key among the announcements at the summit was the news that all three of the major cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft and Google – had signed up to join the project. 

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