Europe is today heavily depending on the United States and China in terms of cloud technologies.
The main european telecommunication operators have entered into strategic partnerships with Huawei who in return provides them proprietary equipement including a proprietary version of OpenStack that does not have much resemblence to open source original (which itself is not stable). It can be inferred that the chinese cybersecurity law is also applicable to Huawei, since the company also acts as cloud operator. This law mandates Huawei as well as any chinese enterprise to provide the necessary technical support to the Chinese government without specific limitations being defined making it potentially applicable on foreign territory.
The French state is one of the major clients of the cloud operating unit of Orange.
The European defense industry work closely with several american manufacturers after failing to deploy an independent european cloud despite considerable grants on national and European level. European defense industries, who adopted the american cloud - like Airbus Defense & Space - are now finding themselves in a situation of being subject to and dependent on the CLOUD Act, foreign legislation that authorizes the US justice department to acquire infomation for litigation and penalty means.
The European market leader in hosting, OVH, who is a global pioneer in many technological fields is also depending on US technology like VMWare and CISCO. In addition, it is US venture captial that now finances the global growth of OVH while the French government has been unable to do so for over 20 years, instead favoring Orange, Dassault, Thalès, Bull, and others.
In 2018, Nexedi launched the first truly independant european cloud operator called: Rapid.Space. It still is today the only Europen cloud operator without any foreign dependencies.
In 2019 Rapid.Space became a global cloud operator with servers or infrastructure being run in France, Sweden, China, Japan, the United States and Russia.
Rapid.Space (https://rapid.space/) specialises on high performance low cost cloud services: large servers with 256 GB RAM, 48 virtual cores, 4 TB SSD, LAN 10 Gbps, 1 Gbps transit.
The services offered by Rapid.Space are thus between 2 and 20 times lower in price compared to services of other cloud operators (AWS, Azure, Alibaba, etc.) while providing equivalent performance.
Rapid.Space provides a global IPv6 content acceleration (CDN) network that reduces latency around the world and accelerates access to web sites or enterprise applications. This network - unique in the world - simplifies cloud integration in regions where networks are not stable or filtered.
All components of Rapid.Space are free software and public :
Rapid.Space main infrastructure is deployed using the services of Hydro66 whose datacenters rely on renewable energy for both their main and secondary circuits. Their 1.07 PUE is the lowest in the world, making Hydro66 the reference model for all of Rapid.Space's sites.
In France, Rapid.Space is using Data4 with about 75% of required electricity coming from nuclear soureces while 20% are renewable. While this energy mix avoids a large CO2 footprint, it is still not fully based on renewable sources.
In China, Rapid Space infrastructure is powered by coal and wind energy for the most part with high hopes of being able to increase the latter part in due time. In order to reduce the energy impact of operations in China, Rapid.Space prefers locating infrastructure in cold and dry regions to limit the energy costs of air conditioning.
The majority of Rapid.Space's equipment is based on the circular economy. The company Splitted Desktop (now ITRenew) provides equipement similar to Facebook servers to Rapid.Space in France. Machines are three years old and have been recertified. This refurbishment process allows to save 25% of CO2 emissions compared to purchasing new equipment.
Rapid.Space is completely open source. All source code is publicly available. There is nothing to hide.
Rapid.Space accepts community contributions. To create a new cloud service, for example :
it suffices to contribute to the code of SlapOS. Code is then deployable on Rapid.Space servers or any infrastructure running Rapid.Space source code.
Rapid.Space recently also integrated an innovation: Caucase. Caucause is a Zero-Knowledge software that enables mutually authenticated and encrypted services to be deployed on the cloud without the Rapid.Space user having to share a certificate or password with Rapid.Space. This is a major innovation to deploy independent orchestrated infrastructure in the cloud without running the risk of foreign legislation forcing Rapid.Space to reveal sensitive information.
As of now, Rapid.Space seems to be the only operator to adopt this technology as standard.
As of September 2019, Rapid.Space is thus the only European independant cloud operator. As previously stated, cloud operations of many defense groups are not independent as they rely on US technologies.
Below is an outline of how Rapid.Space achieves what other providers and infrastructure users fail to accomplish.
Building a cloud requires six components (servers - some of which dedicated to storage, network devices (some of which dedicated to routing), automatic cloud management software (virtualisation, provisioning, configuration, orchestration , billing, etc.), a data center, internet transit and legislation that allows the use of a cloud).
To remain independant, Rapid.Space relies solely on open hardware and free software. The material is free, everyone has the right to produce it, because all plans are public. In the case of Rapid.Space case, servers and networking equipment are recertified and tested in France by Splitted Desktop (now known as ITRenew). Previously these servers have been used in Europe or the United States. They were originally produced in China.
With plans being free, nothing prevents a European server manufacturer from producing the same servers or the same network equivalent. This is done for example by Stordis, a German company specialising in network equipment. It could be achieved by Olimex, which has the equipment in Bulgaria and is the leading European producer of open hardware equipment.
The major difference between Rapid.Space and other cloud operators is that Rapid.Space uses only open hardware, that is, hardware that does not create a single-vendor dependency. Most other operators use proprietary hardware, especially for the network part.
Rapid.Space also uses free software exclusively. All routing relies on the technology babel and re6st. This choice permits to not having to depend on any routing provider unlike other operators.
SlapOS, the free software for managing Rapid.Space, was created in France. It is today the only free software for managing a cloud from A to Z: IaaS, PaaS, orchestration, monitoring, billing, etc. Other cloud management software is either secret (eg AWS), incomplete (eg Proxmox) or unstable (eg OpenStack). SlapOS is one of the key factors behind the success of Rapid.Space which achieved with modest means what defense groups with significant means have failed to do.
The data center Rapid.Space utilises as the transit operator is based in Sweden.
Applicable laws are French laws and Swedish. Eventually, Rapid.Space plans to create a country-by-country structure in Europe in order to avoid the application of laws falling within one domain from one European state to another.
The fact that everything is free (open hardware and free software) in Rapid.Space makes it possible to duplicate Rapid.Space. This is how RapidSpace.cn was born, a company based in China that copied the entire Rapid.Space setup.
RapidSpace.cn relies on the same free technologies but is sourcing from factories in China. Chinese laws applies to RapidSpace.cn (but not to Rapid.Space).
RapidSpace.cn cooperates with Rapid.Space to enable the deployment of services in Europe which have been purchased in China and vice versa. Each entitiy therefore remains independent within its territory. Rapid.Space or RapidSpace.cn customers can select which legislation they want to apply.
RapidSpace.cn is a good showcase to demonstrate how Rapid.Space can be duplicated to create a new independent cloud operator.
It may possible very well be possible that RapidSpace.cn one day uses chinese RISC-V processors while Rapid.Space will use European RISC-V processors. Both projects in Europe and China are aimed at eliminating reliance on Intel, AMD and ARM.
Whatever the future, Rapid.Space's SlapOS technology will be able to adapt to a new architecture because it does not depend on any binary code, unlike its competitors.
Teralab is a private Cloud Computing operator for Big Data and AI, based at the Institut Mines Télécom. It is one of the few successes in France in the field of government cloud computing. Its infrastructure is deployed with SlapOS on equipment similar to the one Rapid.Space uses but using extensions to handle specific security aspects.
Teralab is a good example of how Rapid.Space can serve as inspiration for a dependency-free enterprise cloud. Since all technologies are free and open source, it is very easy to build such an independant private cloud the same way Teralab did.
Rapid.Space offers many advantages over competitors.
In addition to a 2-20 times lower cost and ethical standards without equivalent (open source code, zero-knowledge, circular economy, PUE, renewable electricity, etc.), Rapid.Space has other rare or unique characteristics.
It is a reversible or duplicable cloud service that combines permits creating public, private or hybrid clouds with or without the participation of Rapid.Space. No other operator offers this because Rapid.Space is the only operator to publish all source code as open source, including the billing software.
Rapid.Space offers large servers with fast disks and 10 Gbps network. This type of offer is still quite rare. It is well suited to big data, large ERP, scalability tests, machine sharing by developers (via containers or equivalent).
Rapid.Space offers a unique presence in China in terms of interconnecting, operations, payments and integration, which virtually no operator offers outside Alibaba.
Finally, Rapid.Space integrates a global CDN associated with a DNS and IPv6 network with minimization of latency that virtually no operator offers outside of Alibaba. Thanks to this CDN, a site legally deployed in Europe or China has fast and reliable access all over the world.
Supporting Rapid.Space is simple: just buy Rapid.Space products and services that lower your cloud operating cost and increase your independence
For example, you only need to rent a VM for your developers to run a large ERP or to have a backup/recovery solution.
You can also purchase a private cloud for Big Data applications or acquire Open Compute hardware at competitive prices from Nexedi, the operator of Rapid.Space.
You can duplicate Rapid.Space to diversify the offer with independent operators in many countries.
However you utilise Rapid.Space, it will lead to substantial savings over traditional hardware or cloud providers as well as an infrastructure independent of any components potentially subject to non European legislation.