UT Dallas Secures Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a model for providing on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources, including networks, storage and applications. The concept is attractive, promising that you can access any application and any of your data anywhere you have access to a browser and the Internet.

In the ideal Cloud, you won’t need a personal computer; a thin client with a browser is all you’ll need because all the apps you’ll ever need will be in the Cloud. You also won’t need to have local storage like a hard drive or even a USB flash drive; all the storage you’ll ever need will also be in the Cloud.

In a way, we are already using Cloud computing: whenever you access your Google Mail, you are accessing Gmail thru the Internet and saving the emails on Google’s servers connected to the Internet. That is why you can access your Gmail account anywhere in the world. Same goes with Yahoo! mail and other Internet-based emails.

For Cloud computing to really take off in a big way, we need two (or three) important things to happen first: 1) ubiquitous access to the Internet, and 2) a secure Cloud. A third prerequisite can be added to #1: fast, unlimited Internet access. Most of us in the developing world have prerequisite 1, but prerequisite 2 is sorely lacking. Until now.

UT Dallas researchers have released software tools that they claim will make cloud computing secure. These include open source tools, including Apache’s Hadoop distributed file system, Google’s Mapreduce and the University of Cambridge’s XEN Virtual Machine monitor — and security features built on top of this infrastructure.

The first release consists of a repository of tools that provide secure query processing capabilities, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data. Future releases will address security to data storage services by storing sensitive data in encrypted format.

At the heart of the work is a 4-layered framework consisting of a network layer, an infrastructure layer, a storage layer and a data layer.

Read the article at: PhysOrg.

How does Cloud computing affect photographers? By allowing us to store photos directly in the Cloud instead of on memory cards. Cameras equipped with wireless capability can seamlessly store each picture we take in the Cloud (or more precisely, in our personal and/or public photo albums residing in the Cloud). No more memory cards that fill up and running out of storage space in the field. No more transferring pictures from card to computer at home. Pictures are also accessible instantly anywhere in the world (by yourself and to whoever you give access to: family members, friends, editors, etc.).