Capgemini and Orange have announced that Bleu, a cloud company launched in partnership with Microsoft, is engaging commercially with ‘select French public and private organisations’ in anticipation of services going live by the end of 2024.
Bleu, which is described as ‘fully operational’, was launched with the goal of meeting specific cloud needs of various high level organisations, including the French state, regional authorities, and hospitals among others. The company had received validation from the European Commission last year, and is now looking to set out its path to help prepare migration, and carry out tests and pilots with clients for the nascent platform, which is based on Microsoft 365 and Azure services.
The offering is unique to the French market and relates to the ‘cloud de confiance’, or ‘trusted cloud’. This is a label awarded by ANSSI, France’s cybersecurity agency, guaranteeing the highest level of protection ‘particularly against the extraterritoriality of US law’, as a 2022 Euractiv article (French) put it. The specific qualification is SecNumCloud, a ‘security visa’ from ANSSI which aims to guide administrative authorities, operators of vital importance (OVIs), as well as all European and French economic operators towards trusted providers.
This heightened scrutiny has led to intense competition from French cloud providers. Thales, best known for cybersecurity but with a strong interest in cloud, signed a strategic partnership with Google Cloud in 2021. The first fruit of that labour was S3NS, a new company launched in 2022 with the goal of offering a ‘first step’ towards the trusted cloud.
OVHcloud, cited as the leading web hosting provider in Europe, has various offerings which are qualified under SecNumCloud, while Dassault Systemes announced Outscale, claimed as the first cloud operator to receive the ANSSI security visa for SecNumCloud 3.2 on its public cloud services, in December.
If you are thinking this sounds rather like a sovereign cloud – a cloud computing architecture designed and built to provide data access in compliance with local laws – then there are differences, according to Dominique Luzeaux, former director of the Defense Digital Agency. Quoted in a Le Monde Informatique article this time last year entitled ‘Le cloud souverain est mort, vive le cloud de confiance’, Luzeaux noted a ‘significant’ gap separating the sovereign from the trusted cloud. “Already at the base, sovereignty depends on oneself, while trust depends on a relationship between oneself and the other,” wrote Luzeaux. “The two are not comparable.”
As one would expect, the bunting was firmly out for Bleu from Capgemini and Orange. “As a leading player in the digital transformation of businesses in France, Orange is aware of the specific challenges in terms of data protection and sovereignty for critical infrastructure operators and public institutions,” said Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange. “We are confident that Bleu will meet these needs by providing a cloud solution based on Microsoft services while being fully compliant with the standards set by French authorities in its ‘trusted cloud’ doctrine.”
Aiman Ezzat, CEO of the Capgemini Group, added that he was ‘proud’ of the work done by all sides to realise an offering which will ‘leverage the full power of Microsoft cloud services.’ “Bleu brings a unique combination of security and service benefits, including the widest range of technological innovations, enabling French organisations to accelerate their digital ambitions through the coming years,” said Ezzat.
The company added it was looking to obtain the ANSSI SecNumCloud 3.2 qualification in 2025.
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