Launched in 2020 and born of a Franco-German initiative, the Gaia-X project aims to develop a cloud infrastructure in the European Union, guaranteeing in particular a European location of servers, compliance with the GDPR, and transparency of governance.
The second conference of the Gaia-X association took place on 18 and 19 November 2021. On the sidelines of this meeting, Scaleway—a founding member of the project and a subsidiary of Iliad, the parent company of Free—announced that it was leaving the Gaia-X association.
At issue: the presence in Gaia-X of cloud giants based in the U.S. (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) and in China (Huawei and Alibaba). They sit on the board of directors, although they do not have the right to vote. Scaleway accuses them of slowing down the emergence of a distinct European offer, with the support of European groups such as Atos and Capgemini.
“Gaia-X leaves far too much room for the dominant players in the cloud market (…), whereas building a European cloud is a matter of digital sovereignty and strategic independence; it should be an opportunity to promote and develop European players in the sector,” says Yann Lechelle, CEO of Scaleway.
Five to six engineers from Scaleway (out of its 400 employees, of which 200 engineers) were working on Gaia-X. The French operator will be able to assign other tasks to them: “We prefer to focus on our speed and our ability to recruit the best talent rather than use up our engineers’ time in working groups that are largely in the hands of the dominant players that make everything go very slowly or be very complex,” says Arnaud de Bermingham, president and founder of Scaleway.
OVH Cloud commented on Scaleway’s departure by reaffirming its commitment to Gaia-X, stating that “this is not the time to give up.”