EU Cloud Project, data sovereignty and an alternative data infrastructure in Europe
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Sovereign Cloud is here!

In VMware Explore Barcelona we unveiled new Sovereign Cloud partners and innovations, all of which are covered in this blog. But I wanted to address one other item we ran at Explore, an invite-only event to the world’s first Sovereign Cloud Summit.

The Summit is an initiative that VMware will host every 6 months and aims to bring thought leadership to Sovereign Cloud. With industry leaders, Sovereign Cloud Provider partners, verticalized customers, and legislative experts all together to discover what is happening in the Sovereign world. Every 6 months may seem excessive, but this is a fast-changing market and with ever-changing EU legislation it’s important that partners and customers are aligned on the current status and possible future directions Sovereignty may take.

The Summit had some great speakers and feedback was excellent with many learning new and valuable updates about Sovereign meaning and impact. We started with an introduction from our very own Sumit Dhawan expressing how important Sovereign Cloud is for VMware and the industry, and how VMware is pleased to be involved in leading the charge on Sovereign Cloud.

This was backed up by the Keynote on Tuesday from Raghu talking about the emerging industry and VMware Cloud Providers playing a key role in delivering Sovereign Services in their jurisdiction, highlighting some of the recent Sovereign Cloud partners, and William Lam discussing Sovereign Cloud in more detail, also, Rajeev Bhardwaj who unveiled Sovereign Cloud innovations in Solutions Keynote: 5 Ways VMware Cloud Can Take You from Cloud Chaos to Cloud Smart

After Sumit Dhawan, we had Francisco Mingorance from CISPE talk about the position in the EU Digital Regulation for protecting Sovereignty and immunity from a foreign jurisdiction.  This was an interesting presentation discussing the EU Regulatory landscape for Cloud Sovereignty looking at GDPR Chapter 5 on Transfers or disclosures not authorized by Union law – and adequacy decisions, the New US-EU Privacy Shield and European strategy for data and Data Act Article 27.  All pointing to the fact that we are at least 18 months or more away from a legislative cloud service immunity from a foreign jurisdiction.

The industry is responding and Francisco explained CISPE’s definition of Digital Sovereignty for the cloud – covering 4 Attributes and 20 Recommended Measures (+/-), interestingly and non-intentionally this aligns with VMware’s 5 pillars and 20 point measures – great to see we are heading in the right direction!

The next session detailed analysis of whether we have adequate levels of protection legally transferring personal data out of EEA members, by Tanguy van Overstraeten, Global Head of Privacy and Data Protection at Linklaters.  Tanguy covered whitelisted countries recognized as providing adequate protection, safeguards with standard contract clauses, and binding corporate rules. Finally, he covered derogations of consent and interest. This is a very very complex area with 100’s of legislative pages assigned to some of the legislations and Tanguy really shed some light on these key areas mentioned to cover what Cloud Providers and Customers need to know about privacy, whether industrial or personal, being the same priority and subject to much of the same legislation.

Next up was Rahiel Nasir from IDC covering some great statistics from very recent EU research sponsored by VMware. The research covered areas like which countries were more concerned about Digital Sovereignty and what industry verticals.

As well as covering the challenges that customers are experiencing, and implementation bumps, lastly what the sovereign market means in terms of cloud adoption, with an overwhelming response of customers stating that they would move workloads to local cloud providers who specialize in Sovereign services – the opportunity area for our Sovereign cloud partners.

Next up was Francesco Bonfiglio, the CEO of Gaia-X who spoke about the European strategy for data, the Gaia-X Cloud and data spaces, and particularly the Trust model and impact on data. A framework like Gaia-X is needed as currently in Europe we have disjointed Data & Infrastructures Ecosystems, and a lack of transparency, control & interoperability – stagnating innovation. The good news is that Gaia-X aims to address interop, control and transparency and it’s coming soon with the first Gaia-X clearing house BETA – Q4CY22, (Lighthouse Projects only) and GA expected in Q1CY23.

After a very quick break, we were back, this time with Alban Schmutz the CEO of Axorya discussing the materialization of geopolitical concerns and the rise of Cloud in parallel with raised concerns from customers and policymakers. His presentation covered some key components of Sovereignty, attributes vs main threats, and the re-shaping of legal frameworks in relation to Sovereign operations.

Next was a Sovereign Cloud Provider panel with excellent speakers; Luc Imbert from OVHCloud, Joerg Heese from IONOS, Alfredo Nulli from TIM/Noovle, Francisco Romero Gator from Tietoevry and Miguel Gomez Rodriguez from Telefonica! What a lineup!!!!! We discussed the maturity of Sovereign Cloud, including customer views and understanding, and portfolio growth with Sovereign Solutions, and each partner discussed their view of Sovereign cloud in their region and how they are leading the industry in their markets.

Lastly we heard from a Sovereign customer; Thierry Luc from Sopra Steria a customer of OVHCloud talking with Luc Imbert from OVHCloud about their Sovereign scope in the verticalization of business functions like logistic and energy consumption and an end-to-end all-in-one approach to Sovereign needs covering consulting, application and infrastructure  

Sopra Steria needed to accelerate digital transformation for customers where sovereignty is a key requirement, keeping data in France, operated by French citizens, and independent from U.S. Cloud act. Using a Trusted Digital Platform (a highly secure/available platform) based on the Sopra Steria industrial platform, certified, open, trusted Cloud by OVHCloud, Sopra Steria was able to meet 30+ customers with innovation and modernization requirements in secure Sovereign environments.

Altogether it was an excellent event, with some amazing speakers, and a full house, we are looking forward to the next event (aiming for May 2023) which will be much bigger and held in Brussels.

Keep an eye out on the Sovereign Cloud webpage as we will publish a sub page in the coming days with the presentations and voice recordings of those we can share!

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