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HPE Tech Talk - Will Gaia-X’s Federated Data Model Benefit Business?, Ep.21

HPE Managing Director in Germany, Johannes Koch, joins to talk about Gaia-X, an ambitious project to federate data across Europe, and globally, to propel economic growth. Johannes and Robert delve into why HPE is investing in Gaia-X and the benefits from an advanced digital economy built on shared data & insights.

 

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Transcript

Robert Christiansen:

Welcome to the HPE Tech Talk. I'm your host, Robert Christiansen. My guest today is Johannes Koch, HPE's Managing Director in Germany. He's here to talk about something we're all pretty excited about: Gaia-X, an emerging federated data project supported by more than 300 organizations in Europe and growing globally. This is an expansive frontier for companies to create value from massive distributed data pools. And today we're going to unpack HPE's Gaia-X framework. Johannes, thanks for being here.

Johannes Koch:

Well, thanks Robert. Thanks for having me.

Robert:

It's fantastic. You and I have been going back and forth on Gaia-X for a little while now, so I'm really excited to talk about it. I know that you are too.

Johannes:

Yeah. I think, Robert, we had a pretty good journey around this topic now, so happy to share some of the thoughts.

Robert:

So let's get into it. We're here to talk about Gaia-X obviously, but first, for context, why the need for Gaia-X, can you unpack that for us?

Johannes:

I think the key goal is to help organizations to really unlock the treasure trove of data generated at the edge and to do so in a way that organizations remain in control of their data and are able to and also contribute to their digital business model. So in that perspective, I think you can say it's about digital inclusion and create a level playing field so that everybody can contribute to and benefit from the digital economy. Now and how does Gaia-X achieve that? Now, I think the great thing is that sort of the exponential growth at the edge is happening. And that creates a lot of opportunities for businesses and for every organization.

So there is this data that is created in the vehicles and in the factories and in the stadiums and so on. That data is owned by those who produce and maintain and use them. But the key point is they must share this data, or at least the insights from it, with other organizations to unlock the full value of that data. So think about, for instance, global supply chains. You want to have a unified and real-time view of what is happening across all the suppliers or contract manufacturers along your supply chain. So you need to share data or insights across this diverse group of organization.

And now the easiest way to achieve that might seem to centralize all that data in one place, for instance, the cloud. But as we know, this brings challenges regarding data gravity and data privacy. So this is the key focus of Gaia-X. It brings the challenges regarding digital sovereignty, which is in essence being the master of my digital business model, but also, um you know, you do not need to rely on a centralized cloud platform to share data and insight, which means you're not losing the control of over the digital business model, and you're not being dependent on other firms regarding the future of the organization or even the nation, if you will. So I think it's the key question of the next wave of digital transformation, how to share data and insights at scale without centralization.

Robert:

Gaia-X is the answer that, I absolutely agree. And it's a piece of the overall equation that I think for the decentralization of data as that foundation, coming away from that centralized piece that you're talking about with the public cloud has been providing recently, in the last few years. So earlier this year, we joined forces as a founding member of Gaia-X. And so why is this democratization of data so important for HPE and our clients, especially when they when it looks like they can just simply go to the cloud in this cloud era to get that done. You touched on it earlier, but can you just bring it a little bit more close for HPE and our customers?

Johannes:

Well, maybe I should start with, it's interesting that Gaia-X started as a political initiative by the German and by the French government. But in the meantime, it has become a pan-European and even global project with more than 300 organizations supporting Gaia-X. So I want to emphasize that Gaia-X is already created by its members. It's part of this democratization process and HPE is one of them. So we are probably one of the most active one. We work on the standards and architectures, but also certification.

And why is that? Because I think it's first a perfect match with our strategy and our purpose, the strategy to help unlock the value of data distributed across edges and cloud. But it's also, I think, you know, for our aspiration to be a force for good, digital inclusion, enable equal opportunities for everyone in the digital world and for the customers, of course, is the opportunity to advance data value creation. That means strengths and what will increasingly be the core of business, the competitiveness in the digital economy.

So I think this is the contribution HPE is making to the bigger good, if you will.

Robert:

That's great. You and I have talked a lot about connecting data producers with data consumers and that benefit that we can bring to those organizations. So some people think that warm learning's available or not, some of the different things that are available to us to drive this kind of initiative. But tell me more about, what's a real tangible example of how Gaia-X can be manifested in a manufacturing world?

Johannes:

So one, I think, great example, and this is happening as we speak, will happen by the end of the year. For instance, BMW has already started with a project called Container X that takes basically the learning or the concept of Gaia-X and pulls all the suppliers in the network of BMW into one big federated cloud approach and does that obviously help too. I talked about global supply chains. So you want to have this unified in real-time view of what's happening, for instance, for battery production, right, or warranty management. Then you can leverage all that information across your full value chain.

And I think that is one of the great examples and there are many others, for instance, we've been working with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany where, for the pandemic research, you want to have insights from each of the hospitals, but you cannot share the data. So what you're doing is, you share the insight from each of the hospitals in order to get to better predictions and projections of where the pandemic may happen or even cures and so on. So I think there is this decentralization of the internet is happening and it's happening in many industries and it helps all the participants to create better value. And I think this is the beauty of the concept, right?

Robert:

Absolutely. You and I have talked a lot about this, and we think about all of these client engagements that they talk about exactly that what you had mentioned about BMW, about linking people together with as rapid insights as possible, specifically as it affects the supply chain. We've been talking about how HPE has positioned itself here as having the components necessary for making this real. So this isn't science fiction for us. HPE, I believe, and I know you and I both believe that we have the working components to make this a reality. You want to unpack that just a bit for us?

Johannes:

We did announce recently, and you're well aware of the reference architecture for Gaia-X. So, and I think it's important to understand that you need to, of course, fulfill a few technical capabilities. And that is, for instance, the unified access to distributed data, unified management of distributed apps, you need to be able to present your data and your services offerings to the Gaia-X community. So those are the prerequisites and our reference architecture basically addresses exactly that. We have the Ezmeral product portfolio with the data fabric and the containers, but we also have, and I think that's exciting, we have the security, the zero trust capability.

Robert:

Project Aurora, yes.

Johannes:

Exactly right. And then we have, of course, net access and network control. Those are the technical requirements that each provider or each company needs in order to be able to participate with its own data space in the Gaia-X network. On top, by the way, we also have the Cloud28+, which is a marketplace, and we can either help exchange data, or we have swarm running, right, to change the insight.

So I think we have the full portfolio that you require in order to build up a data space and then share that data space or the data or insights with the wider Gaia-X network. There is, however, another aspect, because companies need to be ready from a business and organizational point of view. You have companies that are good in doing data reporting, but in order to be able to monetize data, you need to be at a different level. So what we also have announced is a roadmap service where we can help basically companies to assess where they are in their journey and what it needs in order to get to the data economics, basically.

Robert:

What I like about Gaia-X as a whole, is because it's solving a very large global problem of connecting data producers and data consumers when there is so much data that has value. Number one.

Number two, that HPE has the broad and very specific technologies to address it. That's great. And at number three we have this global team of what I consider very, very strong AIML data analytics teams that we have here across the globe. And I think that's one of the things that HPE is not as known for, but we have that capacity. We have a very strong team, which I just love. So with all of that stuff together, and we start packing this together, Johannes, and we see our roadmap. How do you think this is going to evolve over time?

Johannes:

I have a big vision for this. Because I think we have the opportunity to really change the architecture of the digital world. And that may sound a bit ambitious. But I think, at the moment, when you look at it, the internet is under control of a very few hyperscalers and data platforms, right?

Robert:

Yep.

Johannes :

I think if we can contribute to a more open and free internet, I think that is clearly a very aspirational, but also very fulfilling objective. I think it would realize what, if you remember, maybe the original promise of the internet, John Perry Barlow, back in 1996, was talking about the declaration of the independence of cyberspace. Cyberspace is an enabler of freedom and equal rights. And I think maybe we're at a tipping point of digital history from a purely centralized model to a more decentralized model.

So I think we have a unique opportunity to shape a better internet. Leverage exponential data growth at the edge to create economic and social progress like we've never done before. And to do this in a way that everyone can contribute and participate. And I believe that HPE can play a key role in shaping this digital future.

Robert:

I couldn't agree with you more and I'm excited to be on the journey with you. Johannes, thank you so very much for joining me today.

Johannes:

Thank you.

Robert:

This was a great conversation. There's definitely much more to come. To our listeners, thank you for being here. I really hope you enjoyed this episode. Take a second to subscribe, leave us a review and tell us what you think. Thank you for tuning in and we'll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

 


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HPE-Editor

Editor-in-chief for the HPE Advancing Life & Work blog.