OnNovember 2,Cedric O, Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, presented an industrial plan to support the French Cloud industry. This is the third pillar of the strategy for the cloud announced in May 2021.
Based on the observation that the cloud is an integral part of the economy, that it is essential to innovation in many sectors and that it “represents a formidable vector of economic growth”, the government launched a national strategy on 17 May 2021 to respond to the challenges posed by the cloud (economic and technological sovereignty and data protection).
The three pillars of the cloud strategy
- The definition and characterization of the “trusted cloud”, guaranteeing a level of legal and cyber protection for sensitive data.
- The “cloud at the Centre” doctrine, initiated by the Prime Minister’s circular of 5 July 2021, which makes the cloud a priority lever for the digital transformation of administrations and is part of a demand policy.
- An industrial policy that aims to build the foundations of a trusted European data economy, through support for supply and innovation.
This strategy is the result of public consultations conducted with industry players, particularly within the framework of the CSF security industry, major European projects and partnerships (GAIA-X and IPCEI) and the call for expressions of interest launched at the beginning of the year.
Of this €1.8 billion economic plan, which is part of the fourth Future Investment Programme (PIA4) and France Relance, €667 million comes from public funds, €680 million from private funding and €444 million from European funding.
The priorities of the industrial plan to support the cloud sector
- Consolidation and promotion of innovative French offerings, including those from open source software.
- Helping French players to scale up critical technologies that are in high demand, such as Big Data and collaborative work.
- The development of disruptive technologies by 2025, such asedge computing, in order to position the European sector as a future champion.
Supporting innovation and research
France and Europe must assert themselves in the Cloud market in the face of American supremacy (Amazon, Google and Microsoft hold 66% of the market share, while OVH Cloud and Deutsch Telekom have only 2%). The research effort must be continued and expanded.
To this end, a Priority Research Program and Equipment (PEPR) led by the CEA and INRIA will be allocated 56 million euros and will aim to remove the scientific barriers to the development of :
- Innovative hybrid cloud solutions (combining “public” and “private” clouds) or community clouds.
- New hardware and software solutions for storing and processing large volumes of data(hyperscale).
- Distributed data storage and processing solutions close to users(edge cloud).
French research will also be able to benefit from an estimated 80 million euros in aid within the framework of various European research programs (DigitalEurope, Horizon Europe) where the cloud is now taking on a predominant role.
Technology transfer from research laboratories to industry will be provided by a technology transfer organization (SATT or IRT), which will be endowed with 10 million euros.
Public funds (e.g. the national seed fund, Multicap croissance 4 and French Tech Souveraineté) may be called upon to study the possibility of providing equity financing for innovative start-ups in the cloud sector.
To meet these challenges, a call for expressions of interest (AMI) was opened from mid-February to mid-April in order to support the French cloud industry in developing competitive offers in these areas. Twenty-three projects were selected to receive State support for a total of €421 million in aid and should mobilise €500 million in private investment.
The most important and innovative projects will be integrated into an Important Project of Common European Interest (PIIEC) and will catalyse partnerships with other European companies. This PIIEC currently brings together twelve Member States: France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia.
Its objective is to provide the European Union with the next-generation cloud and edge computing infrastructures and services needed to deploy new innovative use cases (autonomous vehicles, smart cities, automated production lines, etc.).
Support for R&D projects
As the AMI provided few answers on the development of collaborative work suites in SaaS mode, the State will carry out specific work to federate the relevant players in order to jointly propose high-level collaborative solutions that meet the requirements of both the private and public sectors. To enable administrations to use it to process sensitive data, these solutions will have to be SecNumCloud qualified. A call for expressions of interest will be published in December 2021 and may lead, if the process is successful, to a call for projects in the first quarter of 2022. Up to 50 million euros in aid may be mobilized to support this project.
Another call for projects will also be opened in early 2022 to complete the support for R&D projects, in order to select the partners of the projects grouped in the Important Project of Common European Interest, as well as to identify new projects. The State is also working with emerging players on a support system to obtain the SecNumCloud visa (trusted cloud label). A new budget may be allocated if necessary.
150 million for the creation of shared data spaces
The creation of shared data spaces, probably within the framework of GAIA-X, will encourage growth in demand and give clear commercial prospects to the French and European cloud sector. The innovation capacities of companies and their competitiveness in the face of global competition will be strengthened thanks to massive data processing solutions.
This industrial strategy has been designed to project itself at the European level and to play an active role in the Union’s actions to promote the development of the Cloud sector and data protection, via GAIA-X and the Important Common European Interest Project.
Developing the training offer
With the increasing digitisation of society, companies, whether users or producers of cloud services, will have a growing need for qualified personnel. According to Gartner:
“The human resources and skills challenge is, in fact, the most important one for companies to address for increased use of cloud technologies.”
A wide variety of profiles are affected by these training needs: developers, product managers, salespeople or business leaders. The use of the cloud has important technical, commercial, organisational and legal consequences for the whole company.
To meet this growing demand for qualified personnel, 30 million euros will be devoted to training.
A primarily European strategy
The cloud still often poses challenges in terms of the digital sovereignty of France and Europe. Using an uncontrolled cloud can undermine digital sovereignty: a number of countries, including the United States, have adopted legislation with extraterritorial scope (Cloud Act in the USA), giving them access to the data of European citizens, businesses and administrations stored in their companies, without the consent of the data owners. The Digital Market Act would be the solution that France, at the head of the EU Council, hopes to have adopted.
Michel Paulin, CEO of OVHCloud:
“This acceleration strategy is another step towards establishing a robust French cloud industry, capable of making a lasting impact on the European and global market. France has all the assets – talent, R&D, investment capacity – to develop innovative, high-performance cloud services that guarantee not only the trust and protection of data, but also the performance of solutions. At OVHcloud, this trusted cloud is already a reality with the availability, since the beginning of September, of SecNumCloud qualified cloud offers and the mobilization, around us, of an ecosystem of players offering key services (cyber-security solutions, artificial intelligence studios or business management software). This complementary mechanism is a significant sign of confidence from the public authorities and a sign of strong support for our ecosystem. We hope that the fruit of these projects will meet with success commensurate with this investment, among cloud users, both public and private.”
Cedric O, Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications:
“Today we are giving concrete expression to our long-standing ambition: to bring about the emergence of French and European industrial champions. In total, nearly 2 billion euros will be mobilised for the sector by 2025. We have the means and the capacity to be the future technological leaders of tomorrow and to promote the European values of trust in the Cloud. This is the best sign of confidence for our industry. The successful IPO of OVH Cloud is the most striking proof of our ecosystem’s ability to take the necessary steps to become established. United, the French and European ecosystem will succeed in digital and Cloud.”
Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation
“The emergence of a French and European Cloud is a key issue for the digital and technological sovereignty of our country and for the competitiveness of our industry. An unprecedented effort of 1.8 billion euros, including nearly 100 million euros for cutting-edge research and training, has been mobilized to support the French Cloud sector. By mobilizing all our forces, from research to training, from our startups to our companies, this acceleration strategy gives us the means to regain our technological sovereignty in the Cloud.”