NSF Funds Multi-University Project on Cloud Trustworthiness

By Nicole Hemsoth

October 19, 2010

One of the most frequently-discussed items on many cloud computing topic agendas has been security and privacy, which is no surprise given the constant din on the topic from all quarters. While many have attempted to address privacy and security concerns in the cloud with discussions about product and vendor solutions, it is increasingly an item on the national lab and university agenda as research teams try to find ways to negotiate the complex topic.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded researchers at Boston University, Brown University and the University of California, Irvine $3 million to investigate “trustworthy interaction in the cloud” and look at the interactions between security, privacy and economic utility that exist via the cloud computing model.

More specifically, the grant will go toward enabling the research term to scrutinize cloud service-level agreements and how these uphold information integrity, thus considerations about data leakage and fair pricing versus service quality will be issues on the table.

According to Roberto Tamassia, chair and Plastech Professor of Computer Science at Brown University, the research team envisions “a new generation of trusted cloud computing services where users will be able to verify the integrity of their data stored in the cloud and the correctness of computations performed in the cloud.”

The team will also be considering some of the societal implications of cloud computing via resources from Boston University’s Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS) and the Massachusetts Green HPC Center.

This NSF-funded effort will have collaborative support from commercial IT labs, including IBM, Microsoft, NetApp and VMware, among others.

The focus on service-level agreements in the context of security and privacy in the realm of cloud computing is becoming a hot-button issue as vendors, including those who are listed as collaborators on this project are taking quite seriously. It will be interesting to wait for news from this effort to emerge and see if any of the research lands in actual SLAs in the future.

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