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The Sovereign Cloud: Europe’s route to sovereignty

Sovereignty is becoming an increasing focus in the digitalization debate. But what does it actually mean?

Let’s get onto the public cloud – but how?

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The public cloud is a game changer – and the overwhelming majority of European companies have recognized this. This has been shown by – now widespread – digitalization and cloud-first strategies. As their potential for improving flexibility and responsiveness in an increasingly dynamic commercial environment are indisputably high. Nevertheless, those wanting to use cloud products often discover that planning, consultation, and preparation are also important. Moreover, some industries find it easier than others to use the public cloud.

Cloud vs. compliance

One reason for this is that in Europe, protecting sensitive data is the top priority – and is therefore embedded into laws and regulations. Industries such as banking, insurance, and health-care – but also the public sector – are therefore presented with considerable organizational challenges, as the use of the cloud needs to be compliant with legal requirements.

The solution: sovereign clouds

German companies are quickly being presented with a dilemma in this regard. As they know that they need digital technologies like the cloud for the development of their business and to remain competitive internationally. At the same time, the use of these technologies can however result in an enormous workload, meaning the dynamism and simplicity of the cloud is lost. A sovereign cloud, like the one at the center of project GAIA-X, should resolve this dilemma – including for companies in less regulated industries.

Sovereignty in the cloud environment – what does it mean?

Firstly, sovereignty means full control. And it is reflected in several ways.

Data sovereignty

The owners of data must have certainty that their data will not be manipulated, deleted, copied, or viewed in the cloud by unauthorized parties (this includes the cloud operator). Data sovereignty also means the encryption of information outside of the cloud platform or that the key is managed in a key management system external to the cloud.

Commercial or operational sovereignty

The customer needs to be able to rely on the operator/provider of public cloud services to further develop the technical foundation of the cloud, to avoid undermining the principle of sovereignty when adaptations are made to the platform. This means that the future sustainability and full performance of the platform need to be secured. At the same time, unauthorized access to original platform functions must be prevented.

Software sovereignty

The most important principle of the sovereign cloud: avoiding customer dependence. Consequently, it must be easy to migrate applications and services onto a different IT infrastructure at any time (this could include, for example, in-house infrastructure). This is one of the guidelines from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for the exit strategy of a finance company.

Next stop: the sovereign cloud

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Various approaches are being taken on the way to digital sovereignty.

Alongside the classic approach of in-house operation or the private cloud, public clouds like Google Cloud, Azure and AWS are currently being equipped with add-on services to ensure compliance. Among other aspects, contract design and the involvement of reliable and experienced managed service partners, who are aware of international legal principles like the European General Data Protection Regulation, as well as German and industry-specific compliance requirements, play an important role in such propositions.

GAIA-X, the European initiative for creating a sovereign data space, is working on a more basic solution for all European companies. The GAIA-X project is setting European standards for the realization of sovereignty by first providing a basic definition of what constitutes a sovereign cloud solution. One of the main requirements: the cloud is controlled by Europe, for example, because it is built and operated there. An example of this is the Open Telekom Cloud.

The joint initiative of T-Systems and Google Cloud takes a different approach. With the T-Systems Sovereign Cloud powered by Google Cloud, the partners implement sovereignty as part of an existing hyperscaler platform. German companies that want to use a sovereign cloud receive a comprehensive package that not only encompasses the digital ecosystem and complete range of Google Cloud services, but also a cloud that complies with European data protection standards. T-Systems ensures that the platform complies with the agreed sovereignty conditions. Companies from regulated industries can therefore benefit from the full potential of the public cloud – without exceptions. This is currently a unique approach in Germany.

A boost for digitalization in Europe

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The sovereign cloud is therefore becoming a success factor for digitalization in Europe. As it overcomes regulatory hurdles for cloud use and gives European companies the security of a “to-go” cloud. The availability of sovereign clouds will accelerate the implementation of numerous digital initiatives significantly by removing existing compliance hurdles. It works as an all-inclusive solution, combining the technical expectations of the cloud with capacity for innovation and a clear conscience.

Guide to cloud migration

How you can use tool-supported analysis to uncover shadow IT environments, find your way through the jungle of cloud providers, and find the right path for migration to the cloud through individual consultation.

The meaning of sovereignty

How does sovereignty allow a company to secure data exchanges and combine strengths? And to accelerate time to market and control supply chains? T-Systems CTO Maximilian Ahrens and Hartmut Mueller, CTO and Vice President of IT Technology and Cross Function at Daimler, use examples to demonstrate the importance of sovereignty.

Take the first step!

Take advantage of the public cloud without compromising on data security and compliance requirements. Start your journey towards digitalization today!

On the way to sovereignty. What does the keyword mean?

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