Gaia-X aims to create a federated open data infrastructure based on European values regarding data and cloud sovereignty. The mission of Gaia-X is to design and implement a data sharing architecture that consists of common standards for data sharing, best practices, tools, and governance mechanisms. It also constitutes an EU federation of cloud infrastructure and data services, to which all 27 EU member states have committed themselves1. This overall mission drives the Gaia-X Architecture.2
The Gaia-X Architecture identifies and describes the concepts of the targeted federated open data infrastructure as well as the relationships between them. It describes how Gaia-X facilitates interoperability and interconnection between all participants in the European digital economy, with regard to both data and services.
This draft for the Gaia-X Architecture addresses stakeholders from industry, the public sector, science and other stakeholders. It replaces the former architecture document Gaia-X: Technical Architecture, Release – June 2020.3.
This document describes the top-level Gaia-X Architecture model. It focuses on conceptual modelling and is agnostic regarding technology and vendor. In doing so, it aims at representing the unambiguous understanding of the various Gaia-X stakeholder groups about the fundamental concepts and terms of the Gaia-X Architecture in a consistent form at a certain point in time.
It forms the foundation for further elaboration, specification, and implementation of the Gaia-X Architecture. Thus, it creates an authoritative reference for the Gaia-X Federation Services specification.
The Gaia-X Architecture Document is subject to continuous updates reflecting the evolution of business requirements (e.g. from dataspace activities in Europe), relevant changes in regulatory frameworks, and the advancements regarding the technological state of the art.
The Gaia-X Architecture document describes the concepts required to set up the Gaia-X Data and Infrastructure Ecosystem. It integrates the Providers, Consumers, and Services needed for this interaction. These Services comprise ensuring identities, implementing trust mechanisms, and providing usage control over data exchange and Compliance – without the need for individual agreements.
The Gaia-X Architecture Document describes both the static decomposition and dynamic behaviour of the Gaia-X core concepts and Federation Services.
Details about implementing the Gaia-X Ecosystem are to be defined elsewhere (see “Architecture of Standards”).
At present, automated contracts, legal binding, monitoring, metering as well as billing mechanisms, amongst others, are not within the scope of this document.
The Gaia-X Architecture document includes a glossary which identifies and defines those terms that have a distinct meaning in Gaia-X, which may slightly deviate from everyday language, or have different meanings in other architectures or standards.
Audience and Use
The Gaia-X Architecture document is directed towards all Gaia-X interests and stakeholder groups, such as Gaia-X AISBL members, Hub participants, and employees of companies or individuals interested in learning about the conceptual foundation of Gaia-X.
It should be used as an entry point to get familiar with the fundamental concepts of Gaia-X and their relationship between each other and as a reference for elaboration and specification of the Gaia-X Architecture.
Relation to other Gaia-X Documents
The present document is prepared by the Working Group “Architecture” within the Technical Committee, of which roles and responsibilities will be documented in the Operational Handbook (yet to be published). Additional Compliance-relevant information will be outlined in the documents on “Policies & Rules” as well as “Architecture of Standards”. The Federation Services specification, which is also the basis for the upcoming open source implementation adds details the Federation Service functionalities as well as the upcoming test bench.
Relation to other Documents
Architecture Governance and next Steps
The Gaia-X Architecture document contains contributions from various Gaia-X Working Groups. It is the linking pin to the associated artefacts, providing the top-level conceptual model definitions that are the basis for further specification and implementation. Changes (Request for Change or Errors) are managed in the Architecture Decision Record (ADR) process documented in a collaboration tool4. A more elaborated version of this Gaia-X Architecture document will be released in June 2021. This will allow contributions from all Gaia-X members.
The architecture is utilized to address the following requirements:
Interoperability of data and services: The ability of several systems or services to exchange information and to use the exchanged information mutually.
Portability of data and services: Data is described in a standardised protocol that enables transfer and processing to increase its usefulness as a strategic resource. Services can be migrated without significant changes and adaptations and have a similar quality of service (QoS) as well as the same Compliance level.
Sovereignty over data: Participants can retain absolute control and transparency over what happens to their data. This document emphasises a ‘privacy-by-design’ approach to comply with the EU’s data protection provisions, this document.
Security and trust: Gaia-X puts security technology at its core to protect every Participant and system of the Gaia-X Ecosystem (security-by-design). An Identity management system with mutual authentication, selective disclosure, and revocation of trust is needed to foster a secure digital Ecosystem without building upon the authority of a single corporation or government.
This architecture describes the technical means to achieve that, while being agnostic to technology and vendors.
Architecture Design Principles
The following design principles underlie the architecture:
Federation: Gaia-X specifies federated systems of autonomous entities, tied together by a specified set of standards, frameworks, and legal rules.
Decentralization: The federation principle supports decentralization and distribution within a network of Gaia-X Participants.
Openness: Gaia-X enables an open Ecosystem, which means that everyone who adheres to the Gaia-X principles is welcome to participate in the community. Further, the specification and documentation of Gaia-X technologies and architectures will be openly available. Gaia-X is aware that these technologies are evolving and is open to future innovation and standards.
Transparency: The technical steering and roadmap of Gaia-X is publicly available, and technology choices will be made in order to encourage distribution of collaboratively created artefacts under OSD5 compliant open source licenses6.
European Commission. (2020). Towards a next generation cloud for Europe. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/towards-next-generation-cloud-europe ↩
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. (2019). Project Gaia-X: A Federated Data Infrastructure as the Cradle of a Vibrant European Ecosystem. https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Publikationen/Digitale-Welt/project-Gaia-X.htm ↩
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. (2020). Gaia-X: Technical Architecture: Release - June, 2020. ↩
Gaia-X AISBL. Architecture Decision Record (ADR) Process: GitLab Wiki. https://gitlab.com/Gaia-X/Gaia-X-technical-committee/Gaia-X-core-document-technical-concept-architecture/-/wikis/home ↩
Open Source Initiative. The Open Source Definition (Annotated). https://opensource.org/osd-annotated ↩
Open Source Initiative. Licenses & Standards. https://opensource.org/licenses ↩