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Trusted Cloud Value Proposition for Cloud Tenants

While a tenant organization's compliance and security policies won't change when IT processes migrate to the cloud, the way that organization enforces those policies and proves compliance will change significantly. For most compliance officers and infosec (information security) professionals, the cloud becomes, for practical purposes, a black box. In contrast, a cloud tenant that is landing a workload in a trusted pool can expect the following:

• The assurance that the compute, network, and storage elements in that segment of the cloud or the virtualized data center are trusted. The service provider or the management infrastructure asserts the integrity of the security and trust of these elements.

• The assurance that the information (data and content) s stored, processed, and migrated is always protected for confidentiality, integrity, and privacy.

• The assurance that workloads and applications are not tampered with, and that the infrastructure will launch and execute what

is expected, and can provide a chain of trust that is rooted in hardware.

• The assurance that the devices and users accessing the workloads and services in these trusted clouds are authenticated, and that the workloads run on hardware with demonstrated integrity; likewise, for the controlling software. This ensures that services are being accessed over a reliable and secure network and location.

The Advantages of Cloud Services on a Trusted Computing Chain

The advantages to delivering cloud services on computing resources that have a demonstrated chain of trust rooted in hardware include:

Reducing the risks for co-residency. It ensures that the infrastructure is trusted and has demonstrated integrity. This prevents the launch and execution of untrusted components. It protects not only against malware but also from benign conditions, such as the improper migration or deployment of virtual machines. To illustrate, if a cloud orchestrator (like OpenStack) attempts to move virtual machines from an unsecured computing platform to a trusted one, the policy management software will prevent the incoming virtual machines from landing, since the action originated from an unsecured platform.

Preventing the unsafe transit of secure virtual machines. In the same way that virtual machines arriving from an unsecured platform are not allowed to move to secured platforms, virtual machines originating on secured platforms are not allowed to move to unsecured ones. For instance, if an administrator attempted to transfer a secured virtual machine to a new server, the virtualization management console would first perform a policy check on the outgoing virtual machine and then measure the security configurations of the new server against accepted standards. If the new server does not meet the secure standards required to host the virtual machine, the virtualization management console or security policy engine prevents the virtual machine from migrating and logs the attempt.

Maximizing and scaling operational efficiency by creating trusted pools of systems. Once platform trustworthiness can be measured, cloud providers can put such measurements to use by building trusted pools of systems, all with identical security profiles. Hypervisors can then make more efficient use of secure clouds, moving virtual machines with similar security profiles within zones of identically secured systems for load balancing and other administrative purposes—all the while protecting data in conformance with regulated standards and policies.

The authors believe that ubiquitous adoption of trusted computing chains will address a number of fundamental user concerns about cloud security that currently prevent many applications from being deployed in a cloud setting, thereby barring them from realizing the potential cost reductions that could stem from using cloud technology and limiting the greater business impact that would come from broader deployment.

Summary

We covered the challenges of cloud security and compliance, as well as introduced the concept of trusted clouds. We discussed the needs for trusted clouds and introduced four usage models to enable a trusted computing infrastructure, the foundation for trusted clouds. These models provide a foundation for enhanced security that can evolve with new technologies from Intel and others in the hardware and software ecosystem.

There are no silver bullets for security, such as a single technology solving all problems, because the matter of security is a multifaceted one. But it is clear that a new set of security capabilities is needed, and that starts at the most foundational elements. Trusted platforms provide such a foundation. These platforms can provide:

• Increased visibility of critical controlling software in the cloud environment through attestation capabilities.

• A new control point capable of identifying and enforcing local known good configurations of the host operating environment, and able to report the resultant launch trust status to cloud and security management software for subsequent use.

In the next few chapters we will discuss each of the usage models in detail, including some solution architectures and technologies to bring them to reality.

 
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