The dramatic scale of the COVID-19 crisis will, without a doubt, profoundly change our vision of the world. The urgency of the situation has radically changed our social behaviour, and the ways we work. Regional and international challenges have emerged.
Let’s consider countries, companies — entire sectors, like the healthcare sector — which is so severely affected right now. What are the concrete consequences of concepts such as resilience, sovereignty, and trust?
The digital sector has by no means been spared from these unprecedented challenges, and there is good reason for this. In just a few days, radical transformations were imposed across the globe. Our working lives froze, and completely transformed at the same time. For better or for worse, digital tools are undeniably playing a vital role in this forced transformation. With remote working, remote teaching, alert systems, remote healthcare, online shopping, and much more, there are so many challenges and transformations that can be sudden.
Day after day, we are discovering that this accelerated digital transformation comes with many advantages, but it also comes with challenges — and even risks.
Protecting our freedom of choice
The jungle of digital solutions is so rich and overabundant, and lines of trust can be particularly hard to read — especially for a society that has never needed so many of these solutions before. The lively debate over traceability in contact tracing tools, like TraceTogether in Singapore, demonstrates that citizens are questioning the ethics of these digital tools. And they are right to do so.
- Where is our healthcare data stored, who can access it, and what can they use it for?
- Do we just have to accept that a select few players can sometimes keep their ground rules completely secret?
The recent scandals on the abusive usage of our personal data by social network providers show that these scenarios do not just exist in sci-fi shows like Black Mirror — they are already a reality.
At a time where many countries in Europe have lost control over their production and provisioning chain for equipment like masks and antibiotics, it is evident that the world of data is struggling with the same risks of dependency.
Initiatives for a trusted European digital ecosystem
At OVHcloud, like our customers and most of the other companies we work with, we believe that the ability to exercise our digital sovereignty is key for our freedom of choice. It is important for keeping control over our future, maintaining job security, and even keeping our way of life. These are all the challenges of a trusted cloud — a cloud guaranteeing European countries that strategic data is protected for their states, companies and citizens.
We strongly believe that in Europe, we must build a powerful ecosystem of players that share the same values and respect for data, reversibility, openness and transparency.
This belief is shared by a number of business owners, and by services across the European continent. The latest speeches from the European Commission demonstrate that this feeling is shared, so we need to take action.
There are different initiatives in place already; I’ll give three examples of the ones promoting digital sovereignty:
- Across Europe, there is the Gaia-X cloud project — a joint initiative from German and French public authorities, supported by their respective ecosystems. The goal of this cloud project is to define the axes of influence for a trusted European cloud. With integrators, manufacturers, players in the telecom sector, and institutions, this European ecosystem exists and is united by a strong set of values.
- In France, there is the Industry Strategic Committee, known as the Comité Stratégique de Filière (CSF). It was initiated by the Ministry of Finance and Industry, with players such as Atos, Oodrive, Outscale, OVHcloud, Scaleway and many others confirming their commitment to developing trusted solutions. Integration players such as CapGemini, GFI, Sopra and Thales have also worked hard to offer alternative, trusted sovereign solutions.
- And in terms of business owners — we can look at the success of the call to action from the 09th April for better digital sovereignty in Europe and across the globe in future* (on the initiative of Raphael Richard (Néodia), Pascal Gayat (Les Cas d’OR du Digital, Les Pionniers du Digital), Matthieu Hug (Tilkal), and Alain Garnier (Jamespot)). It has been signed by more than 100 business owners (including Octave and myself, on behalf of OVHcloud) and proves how important it is to be conscious of these topics, and how collective engagement is a key part of taking action together.
These European solutions exist, they are outstanding, and their ingenuity makes them able to compete with more dominant players. But solidarity between public authorities, business owners and large groups will be one of the keys to success for solid digital sovereignty. Public demand, the demand of large European groups, cooperation between research institutes and large teaching centres with start-ups are also key factors for accelerating this ethical ecosystem.
Everyone has understood that now is the time to take action, rather than simply identify issues. Octave Klaba, Founder and Chairman of OVHcloud, has always worked hard to defend strong values, and has succeeded in creating a European champion company — the only European cloud player that is within the top 10 worldwide.
To be responsible, we must take action.
OVHcloud’s commitment to investing and building trust for the future
Investing in our trusted infrastructures: We are investing in our own network of 30 datacentres, and our own telecom network with more than 20TB of transit. We are also investing in two trusted datacentres situated in France, reserved for European players with the most critical data — our public services, hospitals, and cutting-edge industries. Our datacentres hold the very highest certifications in terms of security (HDS, SecNumCloud in progress, ISO/IEC 27001, 27017 and 27018, PCI DSS, etc.).
Investing in a responsible, resilient model: We design our own datacentres, build our servers in France, and prefer short supply paths. This model guarantees employment in northern France, and also offers both traceability and auditability for our hardware — as well as improved availability.
Investing in an energy-efficient model: For over 15 years, OVHcloud has been developing water-cooling technologies for its servers, massively reducing its building and operating costs, and drastically limiting its energy usage.
Investing in innovation: Our belief is that innovation should be used for values of trust, and respecting personal and company data. OVHcloud invests a lot in research and development for solutions, particularly open-source projects — and also working with others to build standards that guarantee interoperability for cloud infrastructures.
But beyond investing in our own technology, we must also build an ecosystem of players that share the same values and respect for data, reversibility, openness and transparency.
Open Trusted Cloud — a catalogue of trusted solutions
We are urging software and SaaS publishers to work with us and help with the emergence of a new initiative: Open Trusted Cloud.
This program has a simple goal — to build an ecosystem of SaaS and PaaS solutions, hosted in an open, reversible cloud that guarantees the physical location of data.
OVHcloud guarantees hosted solutions:
- The choice of location for the storage and processing of data, ensuring compliance with local European legislations.
- Compliance with the CISPE European “code of conduct” on Data Protection1.
- Compliance with the “Code of Conduct” on data reversibility facilitated by the European Commission (SWIPO IaaS2)
- If required, compliance for healthcare data hosting (HDS certification) and financial data hosting (SOC/ACPR/EBA compliance and PCI-DSS certification) in France, and in a certain number of European countries.
- And in certain cases, if solutions are referenced by the right organisations, C2 hosting for state services in France.
This way, it will offer a common platform of competitive solutions, marked with a label that enables everyone to use the best software solutions in the world — all while remaining protected by a trusted, sovereign infrastructure.
Join our Open Trusted Cloud initiative, and together we will prove that the future can be aligned in harmony with our values!
2 Code of Conduct for Data Portability and Cloud Service Switching for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud services