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22 Jun 2022

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France is building its own 'Cloud de Confiance' for government agencies and critical infrastructure players

France was one of the first countries to realize that building a digital economy around the cloud and datacenter services of just a handful of US or Chinese companies may not be a good idea. Data ownership and access to high-value data might become an issue once an economy is fully digital. A number of countries, including Estonia and India, are following France's lead and developing their own infrastructure. In India for example, the Digital Public Goods approach is proving successful, and services like the United Payments Interface (UPI) are leveling the playing field.

The French government is now working with French tech champions Capgemini and Orange to create a secure cloud environment. This 'Cloud de Confiance' (cloud of trust or confidentiality) is called 'Bleu' and will be designed to meet the specific needs of French organizations. It is expected to begin supporting clients in preparing for their migration by the end of 2022. By 2024, Bleu's first services, including self-hosted versions of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, will be available.

Having announced Bleu in May 2021, Orange and Capgemini have been cooperating closely to confirm the model, validate the solution with Microsoft, and begin development. ANSSI (Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d'information) is working with Orange and Capgemini to ensure Bleu's cloud services meet SecNumCloud3 requirements. After receiving all necessary regulatory approvals, the new company is expected to be established later this year. The joint venture between Capgemini and Orange will be led by Jean Coumaros, currently Chief Transformation Officer and member of Capgemini's Group Executive Committee.

As part of its commitment to its French customers, Bleu will be governed by key requirements regarding sensitive data. The platform will be protected from all extraterritorial legislation and have economic independence, since Capgemini and Orange will be the majority shareholders. In addition, Bleu will have an isolated infrastructure that uses French data centers to meet data transfer requirements and ensure full control over cloud-based applications. This means that these data centers will be strictly separated from Microsoft's global data center infrastructure, ensuring operational autonomy. Bleu will also be operated entirely by its own French staff. The services that platform offers should therefore be recognized as a 'Cloud de Confiance' offer by public authorities since they meet all of the technical and legal requirements for receiving the SecNumCloud label by ANSSI.

Bleu will be able to offer Microsoft Azure and core Microsoft 365 services in 2024. Customers will benefit from Microsoft's Azure and Microsoft 365 innovations via regular updates. Bleu could also integrate complementary partners and services in the future.

“As an independent French company, 100% owned by French shareholders, Bleu will bring an unprecedented value proposition to French State and critical infrastructure operators. From now, our main ambition with our partner Capgemini is to make sure that clients are ready to benefit from Bleu services as soon as the platform is available and initiate their transition with the best support and guidance. This is the purpose of the Bleu Readiness Program. Trust is at the core of Orange value and is a key trigger for the French and European cloud ecosystem rise,” said Christel Heydemann, Chief Executive Officer of Orange in a prepared statement.

Photo credit: Rafael Kellermann Streit

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