VW has officially opted for Amazon Web Service as the cloud platform for the development of a digital production platform or industrial cloud across all supply chains. BMW is following the same path with Microsoft Azure and is setting up the Open Manufacturing Platform OPM.
The aim is to consolidate relevant track & trace data from suppliers on these platforms. The suppliers do not like this. They insist on their digital sovereignty. In addition, they don't want to have to set up a proprietary data platform for each automobile driver. Gaia-X, a European cloud that the German government is setting up with partners, is intended to help.
The cloud market is dominated by US corporations such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. European players have so far played no notable role at their level. Anyone who makes their data available to US companies needs to know: According to the Cloud Act - formerly the Patriot Act - the US Attorney General has the right to view their data, even if it is stored in Europe. Gaia-X is now to give the industry a trustworthy refuge for their data.
The idea and the concept of Gaia-X have emerged from several discussions that the family entrepreneur Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Loh, owner of the group of companies of the same name, Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and Dr. Sebastian Ritz, CEO of the German Edge Cloud, have had with Federal Minister Altmaier and several State Secretaries since summer 2018. "Fraunhofer and German Edge Cloud, as companies of the Friedhelm Loh Group, have had a research cooperation since summer 2017 and, among other things, have investigated KI-based processes for production optimization for the new Rittal plant in Haiger," says Dieter Meuser, CEO of IoTOS, recently also a company of the Friedhelm Loh Group. "It quickly became clear for the methods used that conventional cloud-based AI did not meet the requirements of the industry - for example with regard to real-time capability, AI mass data and data sovereignty. Instead, the benefits of edge computing for industrial AI and other innovative digital production optimizations quickly became clear. For example, it is a matter of cycle time fluctuations in product mixes or of quickly identifying the exact cause of bottlenecks."
The need for real-time, data-safe edge data centers or clouds, such as those offered by Amazon Web Services with AWS Outposts and Microsoft with Azure Stack, is growing in industry and many other areas. The vision the Gaia-X panel is focusing on is many distributed edge RZs running on premise. Possible fields of application are not only industry and factories, but also hospitals and residential complexes could participate in the digital sovereignty.
Such a decentralized, new infrastructure could complement the large public clouds and enable industrial real-time applications with data sovereignty. It is also a way of solving many of the cloud problems faced by small and medium-sized businesses. According to the Gaia-X committee, an edge cloud infrastructure is also compatible with the 5G data centers under construction and with the requirements of the healthcare sector, where a solution is needed for data economy for distributed data storage.
As a result, German Edge Cloud, Bosch and IoTOS have launched Oncite, their first product, an industrial edge cloud appliance for the factory. This edge cloud is compatible with Gaia-X and is the first practical expansion step for the Gaia-X industrial initiative presented at the Digital Summit at the end of October.