Faced with American dominance and the wave of artificial intelligence, the government wants to push the French cloud

Bringing the French Cloud into the Age of Genetic Artificial Intelligence. This is essentially the will of the government. During the digital meetings in Strasbourg this Friday, the Minister for Digital Services presented a call for projects to strengthen the cloud service offering in order to overcome the acceleration of artificial intelligence.

The aim is to create more links between cloud providers (OVH, Scaleway, Outscale, Orange) and AI software developers, “and bring together more broadly all private cloud players with research and public computing centers”, clarified the office of Marina Ferrari, during a press conference organized before the event. This call for projects will finance R&D expenditure.

The amount of the aid has not yet been announced, as it will depend on the type of projects proposed, the company specifies. But the investments are part of the 600 million euro fund that the State dedicated to the ecosystem.

French AI nuggets depend on the American cloud

The wave of genetic artificial intelligence, which accelerated in late 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT, has indeed given a new meaning to the topic of the cloud. These large language models require huge computing power and a lot of data (therefore available in the cloud). And if French companies such as Mistral or Photoroom manage to establish themselves in the industry, they often depend on American cloud providers. AWS (Amazon), Azure (Microsoft) and Google Cloud occupy 70% of the market and 80% of its growth.

Even if the Marina Ferrari office remembers that the size of the French market increased by more than 50% between 2020 and 2022. In addition, the main French players are gaining maturity. Both OVH and Outscale (Dassault Systèmes) received the SecNumCloud 3.2 certification a few months ago, the highest French cyber security standard awarded by the National Agency for Security of Information Systems (Anssi). In terms of technical infrastructure, however, they remain well below the Americans. OVH, for example, is not one of the first trading partners to benefit from Nvidia's new chip.

Alongside the launch of this call for projects, Marina Ferrari also announced the selection of 29 new winners of the Sec Num Cloud support. The aim is to ” mature » SME software and platform publishers in terms of security, the Secretary of State's office specifies.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also reminded that the The Important Project of Common European Interest (IPIEC) in the Cloud was officially launched this Friday. This investment program was announced in December, but the first general assembly was held today in Brussels with almost all participants, his office said. Its budget of 2.6 billion euros (1.2 billion public investment and 1.4 billion private investment) is expected to enable the development of new technologies for cloud and edge computing. In total, 19 projects (from 7 countries) are supported, including some for French Orange, Amadeus and Eviden (Atos).

Digital dominance, OVHcloud's argument stronger than ever in the cloud battle

Prefer the French cloud, but not for the Health Data Hub

This Friday's announcements are a continuation of the line announced in September 2022. Prior to that date, the government had opted for a partnership strategy with Gafam, encouraging companies to sign up to their “Trusted Cloud” offerings. Then Jean-Noël Barrot, then Cedric O's successor as Minister of State for Digital Affairs, then adjusted the debate by massively supporting French actors in the name of digital sovereignty and data security.

Surprisingly, this “national strategy” did not prevent Microsoft from choosing to host the Health Data Hub. A decision that was bitterly regretted by some industry companies (Clever Cloud, Cleyrop, Nexidy) who contacted the Council of State on March 19 to try to overturn the CNIL's decision on the matter.

Health data hosting at Microsoft: French companies step up to the plate and refer the matter to the Council of State