»The exact operating model for the Federation Services is of great importance. This will also involve questions of legal certainty, for example in the form of concrete guarantees, service level agreements and support,« says Board Member Susanne Dehmel.
It is not yet clear how it will be ensured that Gaia-X services run in a trustworthy manner. Sebastian Lins of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has been working on the Federation Service 'Compliance' specifications and says that certification and accreditation will probably go through experienced, external partners. »These can be TÜV or well-known testing companies, in any case we will need several trustworthy shoulders.« Lins sees their tasks in a kind of on-boarding service with a catalog-like review of criteria. »This service must transparently show, based on the policy rules, that only secure and certified services are running under the Gaia-X label.«
A certain amount of skepticism about the tight schedule can be heard between the lines from several interviewees. »The project and the tasks in Gaia-X are very complex,« says Lins. Heinz-Joachim Schmitz is also »curious to see how it all works out.« He says he doesn't yet know »exactly what the revised Policy Rules will look like, since they are currently under review, and what exactly conformity will mean in terms of the future 'Gaia-X label'.« Only then, he said, can a company make an informed decision about what services it offers in the general infrastructure and in specific data rooms.
»These are thick boards we are drilling,« emphasizes Andreas Weiss. »These are new technologies that need to be connected to existing solutions.« Gaia-X is a value proposition that cannot be implemented arbitrarily, he says. »We have to take this EU standard seriously,« Weiss says. It's not about protectionism, he says, but about transparency and freedom of choice as an alternative to hyperscalers. »That's where we have to be better!«
In parallel, Weiss believes it is essential to constantly compare the architecture with application examples. The goal is to pilot the first use cases under the Gaia-X architecture by the end of this year. »We need reliable use cases by next year at the latest,« says Heinz-Joachim Schmitz, for him this will be crucial for Gaia-X's success.
According to Schmitz, Gaia-X can help ensure that »the many data islands that exist behind firewalls at customers today can be opened up in a coordinated and secure manner via data rooms to work more effectively and productively between partnered companies.« The automotive data room Catena-X is such a »great example,« he said. Schmitz hopes for a pull effect: »The more companies join in, the more use cases will show the added value of Gaia-X and new ways to create digital value.« The CTO could personally well imagine offering Gaia-X-compliant Watson services such as Natural Language Processing along the self-describing nodes.
»SMEs in particular need to see and understand what practical applications exist and how the scenarios can be implemented in concrete terms,« confirms Andreas Weiss. In the German Gaia-X Hub, 65 use cases have already been launched in nine domains at present, eleven of them in the Industry 4.0 domain alone. In addition, a 186-million-Euro funding competition is running until the end of 2024, with 18 winners starting on September 30 this year with further use cases, each worth 10 to 15 million Euros.
Field work is important: »Only reality will show whether it works,« says Keran Sivalingam of SmartFactory-KL. IBM CTO Schmitz estimates that the Gaia-X testbed may be one of the first reference implementations to run Gaia-X on the store floor. However, Sivalingam also states, »A lot of research needs to be done before a skill like 'drilling' can be offered, purchased and executed with CAD data encrypted during transfer as part of a Gaia-X-based shared production.«
IBM Deutschland GmbH, KIT - Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, BITKOM e. V.