Gaia-X Federation Services – Orchestration concept

The goal of Gaia-X is to foster innovation and data sovereignty. This is achieved by establishing a digitalecosystem, where data is made available, collated, and exchanged in a trustworthy environment, with data owners retaining full sovereignty over their data. Gaia-X enables and promotes the creation of the so-called Gaia-X Federations in the market. Federations are self-determined ecosystems where individual Participants join forces to offer services to be consumed within the Federation, to provide value to its Participants and to create further market value.

Gaia-X does not operate itself on the market to compete with market incumbents. We do not develop a company like a stand-alone cloud provider, neither do we implement data spaces collecting the data from our members. Instead, Gaia-X develops the software components necessary to sets up a federated system that inter-connects several Participants with each other, aiming to develop new services and innovative products.

Such ecosystems consist of joined interconnected data and infrastructure ecosystems, aggregated as ‘Federators’ by the concept of a Gaia-X Federation, and individually orchestrated and operated by a set of ‘Federation Services’.

Gaia-X Infographics - Overview Structure Federation Services

The data ecosystem fosters data spaces based on data exchange with agreed rules. Data and service offerings can be transparently shared across different industry players in different sectors. These so-called Federations promote the creation of new advanced services thanks to the increased amount of data and information that a Federation provides regarding any individual Participant. 

In the infrastructure ecosystem, the offerings from different providers are interoperable, interconnected and compliant to certain rules. Providers can collaborate linking with each other, to further develop and expand their offerings in terms of Catalogue, performance, regions and critical mass. 

In the data ecosystem, the data from different users (data owners), becomes interoperable through joint orchestration. Users can collaborate linking with each other, to exchange data that, coming altogether, provide better insight into their specific supply chain or product/service value chain. This is how new data services providing value to all participants will be created.

Gaia-X aims to promote a data-infrastructure ecosystem, where infrastructures and data come together, joining users and providers in a joint effort that combine the needs for trustworthy platforms to enable and boost the creation of common data spaces.

Defining Federations

To achieve the goals mentioned above, Gaia-X plans to organize Participants into so-called Federations. A Federation is a group of Participants that work together and collaborate on an equal level. The Federation is not owned by anyone; instead, the Participants cooperate based on joint rules. A participant of the Federation or an external service supplier is appointed to become the so-called Federator, with its role being to facilitate the coordination of the group and to provide the necessary operational Federation Services. Gaia-X Federations will be based on different industries and can consist of a large group of Participants. 

Self-Descriptions are the basis for the functioning of the Federations. Put in simple terms, they are user profiles for all Participants and, where applicable, their service offerings. Participants are asked to share information about their business, their data and their service offering in their Self-Descriptions that can be verified by others in the Federation. Each Federation can manage a so-called Services Catalogue that is a repository of all Self-Descriptions offered within this Federation. The access rights are set by the Federation based on the core governance rules. It can be linked with Service Catalogues for generic public service offerings.

The role of Federation Services 

Gaia-X is a European project aiming to promote innovation through data sharing. Currently, vast amounts of data remain unused and potentials of linking up different industries remain untouched. Industry experts have identified a lack of trust in the current landscape of storing, sharing and handling data as the key problem. Many customers of cloud service solutions fear losing control over their data or becoming stuck with one service provider once they decide to upload their confidential information to the cloud (vendor lock-in). To mitigate this concern, Gaia-X seeks to develop a framework in which actors agree on certain rules and values that create trust among all actors. Data sovereignty, privacy and confidentiality, security, technology neutrality and interoperability are core values that Gaia-X promotes through a community-driven process. Companies, individuals and other actors can join Gaia-X, tell the community about their products and services, gain certification, exchange data with others and develop new services together with others. 

Concretely, the first set of services that will be delivered are:

  • Identity and Trust Services: To bridge today’s trust gap, Participants will use Gaia-X Federation Services to build up tailored services that authenticate and authorize Participants in a Federation, for example via credential validation.
  • Federated Catalogue: The Federated Catalogue will be the repository of one Federation, enabling Participants to find other Participants’ information and service offerings in the shape of the Self-Descriptions mentioned earlier. Gaia-X Federation Services will provide the basic code for each Federation to build their own Federated Catalogue.
  • Data Sovereignty Services: Gaia-X Federation Services will help Participants in a Federation retain sovereignty over their data by offering services that can create transparency and enable data usage control. These will include services that can facilitate contract negotiations and keep track of data transactions within Federations. These will empower Participants to determine and keep track of how their data usage through different transactions.
  • Compliance: Gaia-X Federation Services will enable verification of compliance for the services being shared, to help assess if Participants and services adhere to Gaia-X principles, for example in the fields of cybersecurity or data protection. Compliance checks verify during the onboarding phase of a new Participant and will allow for continuous monitoring of services on the run. Additionally, these services will interact with a set of Decentralized Services (part of the Gaia-X framework) that will provide for notarisation and governance and control mechanisms to further support trustworthy transactions between Participants and automation of the several credentials verification (these Decentralized Services are out of the scope of the Federation Services toolbox, and provide for a common layer of governance and control for any Gaia-X federation in a decentralized, sovereign and non alterable or corruptible way).