In order to maximize the value of their data, businesses must be able to share it across their partner ecosystem in a secure, consistent manner. According to the 2023 Global Interconnection Index, an annual market study published by Equinix, interconnection bandwidth is forecast to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35% across every region and major metro included in the study. This shows that organizations across the world will continue to share more data with one another, and that they’ll use direct, private interconnection services to do it.
Data marketplaces provide a virtual setting for businesses to exchange data freely with their partner ecosystems, all without giving up control over the data they share. We’ve seen first-hand how customers in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare need to exchange data on a common platform to fuel their digital transformations, drive innovation and make the most of modern digital applications.
There are unique challenges around building data marketplaces in the European Union, where ongoing concerns around digital sovereignty have been exacerbated by recent geopolitical events. To help address these challenges, Equinix has joined the Gaia-X initiative, an international nonprofit organization that seeks to bring together commercial, scientific and political representatives to create the next generation of sovereign digital infrastructure in Europe.
Discover The Future of Digital Leadership
This analysis also explores the technology trends accelerating digital infrastructure change that is driving the need for an interconnected approach to help businesses deliver new capabilities for the digital world.DOWNLOAD VISION PAPER
The end goal of Gaia-X is not to create a monolithic cloud, but rather to bring together many cloud providers and users in a federated environment. As a result, European organizations will be able to share their data and services freely, while maintaining sovereignty over everything they share. This goal aligns closely with our values at Equinix, and we’re proud to lend it our support and expertise.
Equinix continues our commitment to digital neutrality
At Equinix, our history makes us particularly well suited to support the push for European digital sovereignty. In the early days of the internet, network service providers knew they needed to freely exchange data with one another in order to enable connectivity on a global scale. This proved easier said than done. These for-profit providers were understandably looking out for their own best interests, which made it difficult for them to agree about how and where to exchange data.
This is where Equinix came in. Our company was founded to offer these providers an EQUal, Neutral Internet eXchange—hence the name “Equinix.” Our platform gave network providers a neutral place to exchange their data on equal terms, a capability that helped make the internet as we know it possible.
This is the same thing Gaia-X wants to do now for data sharing among European business partners. Since Equinix did it once for the internet, it only makes sense that we’d do it again for data marketplaces.
How Equinix supports data sovereignty in Europe
Equinix is proud to offer the digital infrastructure and services that help enable a sovereign approach to data sharing in Europe. Equinix Fabric™, our software-defined interconnection service, allows organizations to form direct, private connections with their ecosystem partners, rather than exchanging data via the unreliable public internet.
Equinix customers can also store data in our vendor-neutral Equinix IBX® colocation data centers in metros throughout Europe, while never giving up control over that data. Any time they need to exchange data, they can move it over Equinix Fabric to other metros within Europe. Since our ecosystem includes more than 10,000 customers, there’s a very good chance the partners they want to exchange data with are already at Equinix.
Should they need to move data outside Europe, they can take advantage of Equinix data centers that are landing sites for subsea cables that connect Europe with the rest of the world. In short, Equinix allows European customers to maintain sovereignty over their data’s entire lifecycle—whether they’re storing it, exchanging it, or preparing to move it outside Europe.
What’s next for data regulation in Europe?
At Equinix, we may be the world’s digital infrastructure company™, but we know as well as anybody that the infrastructure itself is only one part of the data marketplace equation. There’s also a legal and contractual side of things—particularly in Europe. EU regulations around data protection and data sovereignty are commonly seen as a bottleneck that makes data marketplaces more difficult to establish, and we can safely assume these regulations will only continue to get stricter going forward.
The Gaia-X initiative aims to empower European organizations to use data marketplaces to their full potential, while also complying with all applicable data regulations. We look forward to sharing our expertise around interconnection and vendor-neutral digital infrastructure to help this effort come to fruition.
However, we also encourage customers to act now to make sure they’re prepared for whatever the future of European data regulations holds. Over the next three to five years, we expect for data marketplaces to become increasingly important for business success. Over that same time period, we also expect that increasingly stringent regulations will make data marketplaces more difficult to establish.
If you want to be successful in this new era of data sharing, you need to start thinking now about where to locate your digital infrastructure, how you’ll collect data and who you’ll need to share that data with. We’re here to help your make the right decisions now, so that in the future, you’ll have the flexible digital infrastructure you need to take advantage of data marketplaces throughout Europe.
The Equinix vision for distributed vendor-neutral digital infrastructure makes us uniquely positioned to support the goals of the Gaia-X initiative. To learn more about what that vision looks like, in Europe and throughout the world, read our paper “The Future of Digital Leadership.”
[i] Interconnection bandwidth is a measure, calculated in bits/sec, of the capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic between two parties, inside carrier-neutral colocation data centers.