Structura-X @ the Gaia-X Summit 2023

Structura-X demonstrates cloud federation

Cloud Service Providers in Italy, Spain and The Netherlands joined forces to successfully demonstrate the technology behind cloud federation using two separate use cases; Multi Region Cloud Roaming led by Opiquad in Italy and Federated Resource expansion led by TNO in The Netherlands. These two Proof of Concepts were developed as part of a Gaia-X lighthouse project called Structura-X. The importance for the European Cloud Infrastructure Service Provider market is crucial given that such federations can guarantee a whole new level of competition for small and mid-size European companies. For the federated Multi Region Cloud Roaming use case four European cloud service providers successfully tested the first federated multi-region cloud infrastructure and proved that any application can be deployed on a federated infrastructure without the need of a centralized single cloud infrastructure provider.

The cloud providers Arsys (ES), Aruba (IT), Intermax (NL) and Opiquad (IT), that leads the project, were using a Federation of Internet Exchanges such as AMS-IX (NL), DE-CIX (DE, ES), ICX (IT) and TOP-IX (IT) to deploy seamlessly on the CSP federated infrastructure a market application by Testudo (IT), allowing end users to determine where and with what level of Gaia-X compliancy the application and its data are deployed and stored.For the federated resource expansion, cloud providers in The Netherlands connected their local resources and later expanded this use case to cloud providers in Italy and Spain in a cross-border set-up. This proves that resources can be expanded when needed using underlying resources that meet a range of varying compliancy requirements based on criteria for location, technology and regulatory aspects. The cloud providers Intermax (NL), SURF (NL), BIT (NL), Arsys (ES), Aruba (IT) and Opiquad (IT) established a cloud federation using Liqo across the same Federation of Internet Exchanges as in the Opiquad case.

Liqo is the technology that enables the peering of Kubernetes clusters for the purpose of resource sharing. A federation of the infrastructures guarantees three great advantages: – The creation of a new “federated Kubernetes infrastructure” that feeds from the sum of all the CSPs connected to it taking advantage of the unmatchable EDGE distribution of small and mid-size providers.- It allows SMEs to build new services that are highly competitive with any other offering currently existing on the market, something that was unthinkable before this. – It allows to keep their SMEs alive and to keep knowledge and competence in local communities throughout the EU.

Leonardo Camiciotti, Executive Director at TOP-IX states: “TOP-IX, AMS-IX and DE-CIX contribute to this PoC by providing the seed of an IXP-driven and Gaia-X compliant interconnection fabric at European scale (and beyond), which is one of the key enabling components for a federated, open, transparent, secure and multi-stakeholder infrastructure. This neutral, historically proven and performing infrastructural asset could contribute mitigate lock-in and foster sovereignty, by promoting a dynamic and wide interconnection between providers of all sizes, across different sectors, applications and territories. The two business cases supported in this PoC show the need for a pervasive network fabric, which will create a seamless texture and enable a European cloud continuum ranging from the core to the edge, therefore opening new businesses opportunities both for big players and SMEs.”

Klaus Ottradovetz (Eviden) and spokesperson on behalf of the Structura-X project; “With Structura-X we are working on the setup of a federated cloud infrastructure which helps users to realize solutions and spaces across different providers of choice – with a common control plane and managed connectivity provide an effective way to support distributed applications and data.”Fabrizio Garrone, at Aruba, said; “Aruba, as a Day-1 Member of Gaia-X and founding member of CISPE is thrilled to witness the remarkable strides in the development of a federated multi-region cloud infrastructure within the Structura-X project. The achieved POC exemplifies the potential for deploying applications across a federated infrastructure without reliance on a centralized single cloud provider. The significance of this achievement extends beyond technological advancements and paves the way for smaller and mid-sized European companies to compete on a global scale. As a further demonstration of Aruba’s commitment, we strongly invest in enabling technology like Liqo also thanks to specific centre of excellence as ArubaKube, that is the main contributor of Liqo opensource project.”

Emile Chalouhi, President and CEO of Opiquad, said; “The multi region cloud roaming federation is a first on many levels. What we wanted to prove with our POC was that there is more competition and a better market through a distributed cooperation of CSPs than there could ever be through centralized solutions. None of this could have been possible outside of the Gaia-X trust framework and without the work of CISPE that constantly pushes for a more fair and competitive market for all. This model is open to anyone and allows a new level of integration that is unprecedented. European Cloud Providers are now at the forefront of the Cloud industry. I’m also very proud of our contribution to TNO’s POC. Liqo is a very promising technology and seeing how seamlessly the multi-cluster is managed and deployed on all the different cloud providers was very exciting. To think about this on a service composition level through GXDCH makes us even more excited for what is definitely going to be a more open and transparent market.”

Fulvio Cazzanti, Founder and CTO of Testudo, said; “The possibility to deploy an application such as Sibilus on a federation of CSPs is crucial both for our clients, who very often what their information deployed and stored on the closest location to them. In regards to the anti-corruption regulation that comes with whistleblowing, which is what Sibilus does, it’s even more evident because local regional government bodies are very sensitive to the fact that their information and providers are local SMEs and like this we can guarantee a trust framework and infrastructural design that allows all our software to provide the same certainty to our clients”.

Ludo Bouw, CEO of Intermax said “We are happy to be involved in both use cases to demonstrate the possibilities of Cloud Federation using two different technologies; Rancher, that we already have commercially available, and Liqo. With Liqo the peering is established directionally: 1) a cluster shares its resources with another cluster, 2) consumes resources from another cluster that extends an offer, or, 3) engages in a bidirectional resource sharing agreement, allowing both clusters to share resources concurrently. We look forward to further develop our capabilities to offer cloud federation services on a commercial basis for our clients.“

Ruben van den Brink, CTO of AMS-IX said; “The results of this projects are very exciting, not only for AMS-IX, but for IXP’s worldwide, as they demonstrate the technical feasibility of a federated infrastructure. The strength of a collaborative approach is not to be underestimated and internet exchanges have a great track record of uniting interests in the connectivity market. I am eager to see cloud providers using this building block for innovation to create federated services.”

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