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24 Jan 2022

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Will SDIA's 'regional clouds' accelerate digital economies?

The SDIA, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating sustainable digital infrastructures, has recently introduced the concept of regional clouds. It is based on the idea that major cities and regions design and build their own cloud infrastructure. In doing so, they will become less dependent on a very few number of tech giants and keep profits, taxes, and jobs locally, within the area.

The Hamburg, Germany-based SDIA, has defined a blueprint of a regional cloud containing all the building blocks of the necessary infrastructure - from design, architecture, and concepts, to business models and contracts - all of which are free to implement, open-source, and free of any legal or copyright claims. The blueprint is based on existing infrastructure and technology. Local data centers, connectivity providers, and software companies will be able to use the blueprint to collaborate and build cloud services for their customers. Wherever possible, open-source software will be used.

The SDIA believes that building a set of federated regional clouds with local players offers many advantages. First, local data centers have already been built according to the local environment. The supply of electrical energy and cooling for these local data centers are often already fully optimized for the local situation and the local power grids. On the other hand, tech giants tend to build similar facilities worldwide, no matter where they are located. That means they do not always integrate very well with the local environment. Also, local companies pay their taxes in their own country, so tax money does not leave the country but is available for additional investments in the local economy and social welfare. As far as employment is concerned, regional clouds offer the advantage of working with local companies that employ local employees. Tech giants often use remote monitoring and other remote services, but regional clouds will rely on their local counterparts to handle software updates, monitoring, security services, etc.

In response to IDCA questions, SDIA states that the blueprint for the data center and connectivity requirements have been finalized. Although regional clouds operate independently, the SDIA has defined an open-source software stack that can serve as the basis for regional clouds. The SDIA is also preparing several proofs-of-concepts. The SDIA representative told the IDCA that it is too early to identify the first cities it will focus on. More information will be announced later this spring.

The benefits of a regional cloud are not only available to European cities. In other parts of the world, regional clouds may also prove beneficial for digital infrastructures and economies.

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