Cloud Federation

What is Cloud Federation?

Federation is a form of multi-organisational alliance in which some processes and related policies and activities are governed and coordinated in a collaborative way, and sometimes delegated to a central body by the federation members, while other processes, policies and activities remain the responsibility of the members of the federated alliance (the federation members). Ideally there should be some asset or resource, common to many of the partners, which can be shared across the federation to better serve clients. Federation is often discussed in the context of multi-cloud integration (federated cloud) and data sharing (federated data).

What is the Potential of Cloud Federation?

Federations are currently receiving extra attention as mechanisms to increase service capacity and capabilities in a multi-supply environment to augment each individual federation member’s ability to serve a wider user base. As this Green Paper concludes, inherently distributed systems can benefit from federation. Important examples exist in public administration, healthcare and transport/mobility and research, as they need to enable the secure access, sharing and analysis of sensitive data already being stored and managed by multiple players in a community – often residing in private cloud infrastructure. On the supply side, in October 2019 the governments of Germany and France announced the Gaia-X federated cloud initiative, with a strong focus on creating a federated cloud and data capability. The EU discusses both cloud federation and data spaces (related to federated data) in its communication “A European Strategy for Data” (EUSD). There is also ongoing research on “federated cloud technology”, much of it EC-funded and adopted by digital infrastructures to address challenging data processing requirements of research communities.

What are the Main Challenges related to Cloud Federation?

HORIZON CLOUD identified the following challenge related to Cloud Federation:

  • Coordinated/federated approaches must be structured around the objectives of their stakeholders, balancing community focussed initiatives with pan- European solutions.

Benefits from Different Federation Business Models

Benefits for Service Providers
  • Increased visibility
  • Access to a larger pool of customers, greater take-up of services
Benefits for Customers
  • Increased variety in service offerings
  • Easier/ cheaper identification, comparison and selection of different service offers in the federation
Benefits for Service Providers
  • Services can be resold by federation to customers outside normal service territory
Benefits for Customers
  • Access to expanded range of interoperable services that otherwise would not be available (e.g. in the country/region, in the customer’s preferred language)
Benefits for Service Providers
  • Provider’s service delivery capabilities are enhanced by integrating with specialized services, resources and expertise from other providers
Benefits for Customers
  • Consistent and efficient management of multiple service providers
Benefits for Service Providers
  • Reduced need to hire specialized personnel
  • Reduced need to invest in specialized service management processes
  • Reduced costs
Benefits for Customers
  • Better integration of the cloud services portfolio used
  • Ability to implement complex use cases
  • Easier/cheaper integration of desired services
  • Ability to support a wider range of specific use cases coming from a broader user base
  • Improved service and support
  • Common support channels
Benefits for Service Providers
  • Reduced need to invest in peak capacity
  • Local investments encouraged by higher ROI
  • Ability to serve a broader market, while limiting operating costs
  • Ability to offer expanded services
  • Operating costs can be reduced
Benefits for Customers
  • Easier access to more/better resources
  • Better/wider services available to customers in underserved territories or market segments
  • Get support in the local language
  • Greater confidence in identification, comparison and selection of interoperable service offers from the federation
  • Reduce “vendor lock-in”
  • Confidence knowing that standard, balanced contracts are being used
  • Easier to implement robust access controls (e.g. with single credential)
  • Easier/cheaper assembly of services
  • Confidence they are complying with all EU and relevant national laws and regulations
  • Know that the data and information that they have placed in the federation will be handled in accordance with EU values
  • Increased trust in federation partners

Would you like to know more about Cloud Federation?

Another interesting read: Our Cloud federation Briefing Paper