Zug, Switzerland, 14 April 2021 – The majority of digital infrastructures, platforms, applications and services used in Europe come from companies based in the USA. So how can the region break free from this dependency? VNC, a leading developer of open-source enterprise applications, outlines the basic foundations for digital sovereignty.
Digitalization offers enormous economic and social opportunities, but Europe is still dependent on the United States in many respects. Technology companies in the US have long since achieved a level of market power that enables them to drive development in their own interests and dictate the framework conditions. European companies are barely able to compete, and European countries are having a hard time enforcing their rules and values – in everything from data protection to interoperability. In order for Europe to become digitally sovereign and make self-determined decisions about the design and use of systems as well as the use of the data generated, VNC believes that a number of crucial changes must be introduced:
- Secure European infrastructure: Europe needs high-performance, high-availability and secure data centers in order to break free from US dependency. An initiative that drives forward the construction of new data centers or certifies existing ones in accordance with European standards would be ideal. This infrastructure would then also form the basis for a European cloud platform, because in the future, the cloud will be indispensable. Although the construction of data centers requires large investments, it is also the least technically demanding step on the way to digital sovereignty.
- An open-source cloud platform:The next step should be to provide an alternative to the hyperscalers through an open-source cloud platform. The technologies for this – such as Kubernetes on operating systems from Red Hat or Ubuntu – already exist, and would allow Europe to develop an equivalent, if not superior, cloud that is protected and certified according to European standards, thus making it easier to build hybrid cloud environments..
- An ecosystem of open-source applications: Europe needs modern applications or, even better, application suites that offer a high level of security and data protection and allow seamless integration thanks to open source. Since there is no way around the cloud, every application must actually be cloud-enabled by default and run on browsers of various end devices without plug-ins. Such a software ecosystem also must include platform technologies such as cloud databases and cloud storage. In a perfect world, the SaaS applications could also be operated in a protected instance for a single company if desired – as a kind of dedicated SaaS.
- Incentives for investments and sponsorships: Extensive investments are necessary to build new data centers, develop cloud platforms and create an extensive software ecosystem. In addition to subsidy programs, tax breaks and better write-off options would provide investment incentives. Similarly, sponsorships can help many young companies by providing data center operators with infrastructure in exchange for their participation.
- Attractive jobs: Europe needs highly attractive IT jobs to prevent brain drain – the migration of the doubtless already existing experts to other areas – and to inspire even more young people to take up IT professions. There are plenty of interesting jobs in software development and DevOps, data center and infrastructure management, consulting and IT project management, but companies also need to say goodbye to antiquated management styles, support agile working methods and be more flexible, for example by offering work from home options. A lot has changed in this area in recent months, albeit not always entirely voluntarily.
- Equal opportunities: Europe can only achieve digital sovereignty if the preference for closed source ends and equal opportunities are created for open source. Currently, major contracts are awarded to the big players in the software industry, sometimes without a call for tenders, which leads to pseudo-standards that establish themselves through great market power and further increase the dependence on individual providers. Europe needs transparent contract awards with a free flow of communication instead of agreements behind closed doors. And why can’t public authorities serve as a role model and generally rely on European or open-source solutions? There are so many innovative European providers that are often ignored – especially concerning funding, which is mostly focused on the top players and must be made much more technology agnostic.
„Currently, the digital world is dominated by large US corporations, whose market power continues unabated despite European efforts for digital sovereignty. This market power is increasing even now – with every search, every purchase and every like,” explains Andrea Wörrlein, managing director of VNC in Berlin, Germany, and member of the Board of VNC AG in Zug, Switzerland. “This will only change if Europe builds its own secure and trustworthy infrastructures and platforms with a high proportion of European technology and software. For this to happen, however, the framework conditions must be sound, and innovative and uncompromised open-source based solutions must be strengthened – and perhaps US technology corporations shouldn’t immediately be brought on board for every initiative, if we actually want to become less dependent on them.“
VNC – Virtual Network Consult AG, based in Switzerland, Germany and India, is a leading developer of open source-based enterprise applications and positions itself as an open and secure alternative to the established software giants. With VNClagoon, the organization with its global open source developer community has created an integrated product suite for enterprises, characterized by high security, state-of-the-art technology and low TCO. VNC’s customers include system integrators and telcos as well as large enterprises and institutions. Further information on https://vnclagoon.com, on Twitter @VNCbiz and on LinkedIn.
VNC – Virtual Network Consult AG
Phone: +41 (41) 727 52 00