Gaia-X Operating Model - Concept

Gaia-X in its unique endeavor must have an operating model enabling a wide adoption from small and medium-sized enterprises up to large organisations, including highly regulated markets, to be sustainable and scalable.

To achieve the above statements, a non-exhaustive list of Critical Success Factors (CSFs) includes:

  1. The solution must provide clear and unambiguous added values to the Participants.
  2. The solution must have a transparent governance model with identified accountability and liability.
  3. The solution must be easy to use by its Participants.
  4. The solution must be financially sustainable for the Participants and the Gaia-X Association.

Decentralized Autonomous Organization

Decentralized Autonomous Organization1, DAO, is a type of governing model where:

  • There is no central leadership.
  • Decisions are made by the community’s members.
  • The regulation is done by a set of automatically enforceable rules on a distributed ledger whose goal is to incentive its community’s members to achieve a shared common mission.
  • The organization has its own rules, including for managing its own funds.

Gaia-X Association roles

Based on the objective and constraints to achieve those objectives, Gaia-X Association is creating a Gaia-X DAO.

The Gaia-X Association, Gaia-X European Association for Data and Cloud AISBL, has several defined roles, to:

  1. Provide a decentralized network with smart contract functionality, via a Gaia-X distributed ledger.
  2. Provide a Gaia-X token enabling transactions on the decentralized network.
  3. Provide the minimal set of rules to implement interoperability among Participants and Ecosystems. Those rules include how to validate Self-Descriptions, how to issue Labels, how to discover and register on the Gaia-X network another community’s Ecosystems and Participants. The rules will be enforced via smart contracts and oracles2.
  4. Provide and operate a decentralized and easily searchable catalogue3.
  5. Provide and maintain a list of Self-description URIs violating Gaia-X membership rules. This list must be used by all Gaia-X Catalogue providers to filter out inappropriate content.

Decentralized Consensus algorithms

In the ongoing work a consensus algorithm will have to be defined, some considerations to be taken into account:

There is a wide range of existing consensus algorithms4. Among the top, we have Proof of Work used for example by Bitcoin. It’s very energy consuming. We have Proof of Stake used by Tezos which requires a minimal set of stakes, i.e. tokens, to become a validator.

One possible consensus algorithm for consideration could be Proof of Authority, with the different distributed ledger nodes operated by a number of providers accredited following the rules set by the Gaia-X Association AISBL. Also emerging algorithms such as Proof of Participation5 could be considered.

Interoperability rules

Gaia-X participants which agree to a specific set of additional rules or scope may constitute an Ecosystem with its own governance (e.g. Catena-X).

Individual Ecosystems can register themselves in the Gaia-X Ecosystem under the condition that they use the Gaia-X Architecture and conform to Gaia-X requirements.

Interoperability criteria

Criteria Mandatory Rules
Base Yes
  • Must use Gaia-X Self-description format and ontology
  • Must provide public access to its raw Self-Description files
  • Must use Verifiable credentials
Infra No Must use Gaia-X compliant composition format
Data No Must use Gaia-X compliant data description format
Identity No Must use Gaia-X compliant Identity methods
Access No Must use Gaia-X compliant digital rights and access descriptions
Usage No Must use Gaia-X compliant usage policy description6

Using this mechanism, a Provider from one Ecosystem can have their Service Offering made available to other Ecosystems. Other Ecosystems may include those Service Offerings in their catalogues depending on their internal rules and the interoperability level.

Not all interoperability levels are mandatory to be awarded as a Gaia-X Ecosystem. The mandatory levels are defined by the Gaia-X DAO.

Decentralized Catalogue

The Gaia-X Association will provide a decentralized Catalogue which will enable fast and transparent access to Providers and Service Offers, including Infrastructure, Data and Algorithms offered.

Any Ecosystem can extend this Catalogue by registering their own Self-Description storage URI in the Gaia-X distributed ledger. This creates a Catalogue of Catalogues or more precisely a ledger of Self-description directories.

Any Ecosystem can create their specific Catalogue out of the decentralized published Self-Descriptions.

Data curation

By offering transparent access to structured and verifiable Service-Descriptions, plus visibility on Service Instance consumption, the Participants can extrapolate about the data quality.

Other metadata, such as using Great Expectations can be enforced at the Data interoperability layer to promote a Data quality score.

  1. Example of the setup of a DAO 

  2. Various oracles can be implemented, include decentralized ones with 

  3. Example of decentralized data and algorithms marketplace 

  4. Study of Blockchain Based Decentralized Consensus Algorithms - DOI 10.1109/TENCON.2019.8929439 


  6. Could be enforced by Digital Rights Management and or similar.