The digitization of production is an industry-wide strategic goal and the most important driver of innovation. However, there is still a significant gap between ideas, concepts and visions on the one hand and industrial reality on the other. This is especially the case with purely data-based methods and solutions that build on highly scalable platforms. Furthermore, the digitization of production often ends at the factory level, and cross-company approaches are rarely present. In the IT environment, these challenges have been overcome by approaches such as edge and cloud computing as well as uniform standards and data models, which, however, are difficult to transfer to production technology. Compatibility of architectures and methods is limited, connectivity is complex, unified data models are lacking, and there are wide-ranging issues regarding control over systems and security of data. The European GAIA-X project aims to create a data infrastructure that addresses these gaps. Jointly driven by industry and research, the initiative relies on open standard IT solutions, extends them and uses both centralized cloud and distributed edge approaches. Although a great deal of progress has already been made within the framework of GAIA-X, a basic architecture is in place and initial services have been created, neither science nor industry has yet benefited from it. Even the exploration and further development of the architecture and components developed so far are critical, as concrete implementations and experiences are missing and the barriers to entry into the topic are very high. The potential and current status of the project therefore show a strong disparity.
The projected work is divided into three subprojects, which are oriented to the levels of basic infrastructure, GAIA-X ecosystem and application.
1) To create the basic infrastructure, both the hardware resources and the necessary software solutions are to be instantiated. An integral part is also a convergent communication technology, which plays a decisive role for the connectivity of GAIA-X up to production systems.
2) The GAIA-X ecosystem is built on top of the infrastructure and distributed across the cloud and edge nodes. In addition to basic services and data spaces, the focus here is on suitable processes which, among other things, should enable the secure and systematic on-boarding of new services and participants. The investigation of suitable integration options for typical applications from the production environment concludes this subproject.
3) Based on this, various applications will be implemented at the application level that connect innovative digital approaches with real production scenarios. The implementation will take place at several locations and includes the integration of the infrastructure in data centers as well as the coupling with real production systems in research factories.
In the Innovation Campus Mobility of the Future (ICM), digital solutions play a central role and GAIA-X is seen as a potential enabler for a variety of research activities. The goal of this project is therefore to make GAIA-X usable, to create a concrete instance for this purpose, to enable coupling with production systems, and thus to create the basis for a strongly scaling innovation platform for the ICM, but also beyond it in research and industry. The identification of open research questions, a reflection of the findings into the GAIA-X initiative as well as the knowledge transfer are in the focus.