Home Tech & Gadgets “In the cloud war, we would like a government on our side”

“In the cloud war, we would like a government on our side”


VSe will be one of the hot topics of the summer. The rise of the Thales and Google alliance, like that of Capgemini and Orange with Microsoft, in storage and in data analysis, and which is commonly called the cloud computing, keeps reacting. Let’s summarize: a few days ago, Thales confirmed, with Google, the launch of S3NS. The mission of this project which should see the light of day in 2024? “Combining the best of both worlds: the security and data protection of a cybersecurity leader with the agility and wide range of services of a hyperscaler [une société capable de s’adapter à une forte demande de ressources, NDLR]. This step marks the beginning of a technological and industrial adventure which will bring in its wake all of the French economic players attached to a solution of trust”, explains Marc Darmon, Deputy Managing Director of the highly strategic French company Thales.

For its part, Orange and Capgemini are preparing to form an alliance via the Blue project with Microsoft, which recently hit the headlines by being part of the Health Data Hub, a platform that guarantees to manage and protect our data from health. Do you have to go there with your eyes closed? “Blue brings a unique combination of advantages in terms of security and service offering, in particular by providing the widest range of technological innovations,” said Aiman ​​Ezzat, CEO of the Capgemini group.

The argument of the supporters of these alliances? Only the hyperscalers, the American giants of the sector that are Amazon, Google and Microsoft, are able to strike fast and hard in this sector. This is not really the opinion of MP Philippe Latombe (MoDem), who, specializing in digital issues, has just asked the government a question. “Are we sure that such alliances will make it possible to escape extraterritorial laws, and in particular the Cloud Act? “Wonders in particular the elected official, who also sent a request for an explanation by letter to the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (Anssi) and another to the National Commission for Computing and Freedoms (CNIL). For the deputy, this is all the more worrying since there are a number of talented French companies in the cloud and data security in France and Europe, from Scaleway to OVH, via 3DS Outscale, launched by Dassault. Systems, Jamespot, Rapid. Space, Jalios, Netframe, Oodrive, Stormshield, Patrowl or even Scalingo. Philippe Latombe can count on the active support of Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly (Centrist Union), one of the most advanced political leaders in France on questions of digital sovereignty: two years ago, she addressed questions on the subject to the government.

Same concern for Quentin Adam, the co-creator of the French start-up Clever Cloud, based in Nantes and Paris. This software publisher, which already has Maif, Airbus and even Partouche as customers, also relies on the Grenoble microprocessor manufacturer Kalray to develop its own storage and network solutions. The message is clear: there are viable solutions born in France. For the entrepreneur, the State should encourage French players to guarantee our sovereignty in this ultra-strategic area. The cloud indeed plays an essential role in our lives and takes very diverse forms: from file storage for smartphones to online accounting software, via video games on demand, but also the analysis of intimate data, such as those concerning our health, and no doubt in the future the data for our defence. It is above all one of the bases on which the economy, and therefore our sovereignty, is created. “There is no fatality, it is still possible to rely on abundant and very high-level French players”, estimates David Chassan, director of strategy for 3DS Outscale, who cites as an example the recent collaboration between Jalios and the Ministry of the Interior. For Quentin Adam, the state should not only give aid, but also target public procurement. In short, for the entrepreneur, this cloud war is a question of sovereignty, and therefore of our future freedom. Interview.

Point : Why is the alliance between Google and Thales or that between Orange and Capgemini with Microsoft important to you?

Quentin Adam: They are only seen as important because they stem from a government announcement. As a French entrepreneur, who believes in and defends European values, the technology that our continent knows how to produce is what saddens me the most. Basically, these solutions promise a hypothetical delivery in 2024, while French cloud players have proven and stable, competitive solutions available today, without hazard and without a biased vision of sovereignty. The sovereign cloud or, if you prefer “French style”, today: it’s us! For the moment, the American clouds are only announcing joint ventures to distant delivery dates and unclear operational conditions.

In reality, I see that the commercial discourse of Google and Microsoft is to say: “Buy our services now, in two years, it will be sovereign. In this way, they avoid many questions and boost their commercial performance. I don’t know if S3NS or Bleu will be successful, previous wanderings in the field of “sovereign cloud” have shown us that nothing is as easy as expected. But they already allow large American suppliers to capture large account customers at little cost, with the complacency of French players who have an interest in the status quo. This is why they are important to them.

However, they explain guaranteeing digital sovereignty.

Contrary to popular belief, the cloud is not infrastructure, it is software. The infrastructure is just a consequence of selling this software as a service. By subcontracting the software part to non-European partners, we de facto give them control of the most strategic and most profitable part of the activity (the software has an increasing return on capital, the infrastructures are ‘amortization). The irony is that France is recognized worldwide for the quality of its software and its sector of excellence in this area. Not betting on this is a lack of political-industrial vision and understanding of the underlying issues.

Moreover, the operating conditions of these offers are still unclear and the issue of guaranteeing their tightness vis-à-vis US extraterritorial laws is far from trivial. So who will design and produce the servers hosted in the datacenters, can the source code of the software be audited by the State if it is to host the data of the French? Beyond the capitalistic promises, these questions will also have to be answered.

What are the weapons of the French cloud of which you are one of the spearheads?

The principles of the cloud were invented in France, such as virtualization, we have the engineering culture of these service layers, and we have many companies that cultivate this culture and a strong capacity for innovation, such as Jamespot, Linagora Mailo, OVHcloud, Rapid. Space, Scaleway, or of course Clever Cloud.

Health Data Hub: “The choice of Microsoft, an industrial misinterpretation! »

On certain products and verticals, which are the most requested by customers, we have better products, much more adapted to the French market, whose players and culture we know. Customers can also count on a much more qualitative relationship with local structures that are more responsive than when they are just a line with a large American integrator. Moreover, and this is most surprising in the lack of reactions that this arouses, when these multinationals are competitors of their customers – and today with whom are they not? –, this does not fail to create embarrassing situations. If we dwell on the subject of Clever Cloud, our customers from AWS summarize the situation in two figures: 30% less invoice and 20% time recovered on the team.

What should be done to further strengthen the French players?

First, we must stop thinking that there is no French offer or that it would not be up to standard and stop the “American technology” reflex: French developers are good and we have good structures which carry many innovations. They have a problem of notoriety, which can be resolved quickly, for example with a voluntarist policy of the government not to speak only of American initiatives. But above all, it is necessary to test, I insist on this term, the European and French offers. They should always be evaluated by the organizations which should explain why they do not take them if necessary: ​​it is necessary to help the actors to structure the market for the good health of the ecosystem. I highly recommend allocating part of its budgets to national players, if only to ensure their development, the good performance of the ecosystem and to have a link with the breeding ground of our innovation.

“We are not bound hand and foot to Microsoft”

Just as it is happening in the United States, where the offers of the world giants are developing in this way, it is important, not to give aid, but to direct the public order on the sovereign offers that exist today, and to force the collaborations using iconic projects, such as the Health Data Hub. But more importantly, French consulting companies and integrators must also embark on a policy of working together with national players. In the cloud war, we would like a government on our side. This war is not over, it has only just begun, we can win it. But for that, it would be necessary that the leaders do not play against their camps. It’s up to them to choose. The health of our ecosystem is at stake and seeing them favor sovereign offers would be a great accelerator of adoption, virtuous for all. The cloud is a market that doubles every year, it is an activity that serves as the foundation for all the digitization of our society: it is essential to make it a priority.