Europe lags far behind the US hyperscalers Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and the Chinese cloud operator Alibaba Cloud. These players invest tens of billions each year in the development of their services and have thus created an immense edge in innovation. Since the Corona crisis, the rush for cloud services from these providers has become even stronger and many fear that Europe is becoming increasingly dependent on these foreign tech giants. While the ambitious European cloud project “Gaia X” will probably take some time to deliver tangible results, the Schwarz Group has created an offering under the STACKIT brand that promises scalable cloud solutions from the DACH region with maximum data sovereignty. Currently, the STACKIT cloud is still in BETA phase, but the cloud offering should soon be generally available. STACKIT positions itself as an alternative to the large global players and aims to support companies throughout Europe in their digital transformation.
Who is behind STACKIT?
Behind STACKIT is the Schwarz Group with headquarters in Neckarsulm (Baden-Württemberg). It is Europe’s largest retail group, which includes the two large supermarket companies Lidl and Kaufland. After having heavily upgraded its own IT subsidiary in recent years, the Schwarz Group will now enter the cloud business under the STACKIT brand and open up its in-house cloud to external companies. As partners, the Schwarz Group has brought two other large companies from the Heilbronn region on board: the energy supplier EnBW and the wholesale group Würth.
What are the goals of STACKIT?
The STACKIT team, currently consisting of about 70 employees, not only wants to drive the digital transformation of the Schwarz Group, but also wants to create a competitive cloud offering for external companies from various industries, which can compete with AWS, Azure and others. In particular, STACKIT could take advantage of the concerns of German companies regarding data protection at the large US providers. With their promise to keep data exclusively in the DACH region and to work strictly according to European data protection standards, they could persuade the so far somewhat hesitant medium-sized companies to make the leap into the cloud.
What is the status of the STACKIT Cloud?
The Schwarz Group has been working on a cloud offering since 2018. Since 2019 STACKIT offers colocation services in its two modern and energy-efficient data centers. One of them is located not far from the Neckarsulm headquarters in Ellhofen (Baden-Württemberg), the second in Ostermiething (Austria). A third data centre in Ostermiething is already planned. According to the website, their data center infrastructure comprises 20,000 servers with 22.5 petabytes of memory.
Since spring 2020, interested companies can apply for trial accounts for the STACKIT Cloud and try out preliminary services free of charge. In a few months, the cloud offering will then officially go live. The cloud architecture of STACKIT is based on the open cloud operating system OpenStack. At this point in time, STACKIT advertises the following services:
– Compute (virtual machines)
– Storage (object storage service)
– Networking (load balancer)
– Development environments on Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes
– managed database
– managed services
The product portfolio is to be continuously developed over time and trial users are invited to make suggestions for the features they require.
It will be interesting to see how the STACKIT cloud will develop and whether the prices will be set very low, as is the case at the supermarket chains Lidl and Kaufland. We have already tested the BETA extensively and look forward to the go-live in a few months. We think that there will be interesting opportunities for local companies from the Heilbronn region and beyond. We are especially looking forward to the object storage service and hope to be able to offer our customers the STACKIT cloud as an inexpensive, secure and GDPR-compliant storage location as part of our IT-as-a-service package.