How Gaia-X works
Figure 1: Manufacturing ecosystem (consisting of data and infrastructure ecosystems), with four thematic areas of services that ensure interaction between ecosystems
According to the Gaia-X concept, a manufacturing ecosystem (= value creation ecosystem) is composed of an infrastructure ecosystem and a data ecosystem, which are digitally networked thanks to Gaia-X. Data is generated in the infrastructure ecosystem and transferred to the data ecosystem, where it is then processed and stored in the cloud. They then flow back into the infrastructure ecosystem as aggregated knowledge or information (smart data) and contribute to value creation there, for example in the machine environment. The basis of the entire system is the European legal framework (including GDPR), which makes the system legally secure. Digital services (“federation services” in Gaia-X, also functions or programmed codes/ rules implemented in program code) provide the basic infrastructure for interaction between and within the ecosystems (see “Interoperability“).
In the infrastructure ecosystem, the data is generated within the company’s hardware (such as machines, systems, sensors, etc.). Subsequently, the data is processed on “nodes”, which are computer units registered and certified according to Gaia-X. The processed data is then fed into the data ecosystem or linked to cloud and computer systems. For data processing, services run on the nodes, which effectively enable this interoperability (more on interoperability and other principles of EuProGigant). In the data ecosystem, “dataspaces” come into play. These are domain-specific areas for industry, among others, which can be imagined as virtual spaces. In these, the participants have agreed on basic rules regarding interfaces for data exchange and the type of data description, among other things.
Federation Services in Gaia-X
The “Federation Services” are used to link the two ecosystems which enables interoperability. There are various federation services, which are clustered in four service classes (computer science term for families of programmed codes) according to related topics. The entire Federation Services can be thought of as a function library. The proposal for the services comes from the Gaia-X community, whereby no details of the implementation (interfaces, bottom-up interaction) are described. The working groups, which are part of the Gaia-X AISBL (umbrella organisation based in Brussels), develop the concepts of the federation services and deliver the first implementations. The implementation in open source code will be essential for the dissemination and acceptance of Gaia-X.
Other digital services can be applied (“consumed”) in the data and infrastructure ecosystem. A service – to be understood here as a mini-software application – can, for example, serve to detect the stability of a machining process or the condition of a machine. EuProGigant creates the data and infrastructure ecosystem, feeds its content, develops the first digital services and demonstrates how they work.
Federation services and the rules behind them ensure that the owner of sensitive production data has complete control over defining rights of use. This is understood as data sovereignty. Existential to this is the unique identification of each data provider/consumer and the development of powerful mechanisms to protect the collected data, as well as the ability to track data use and data processing. In line with the Gaia-X concept, open source and open standards are also used in Gaia-X wherever possible and appropriate.