HP today formally opened the HP G-Cloud Theatre, welcoming visitors to its vision of high-security, highly flexible cloud computing based on intellectual property developed at HP Labs, the company’s central research arm.
The demonstration facility, located at the HP Labs site in Bristol, England, targets government and public sector bodies seeking a cost-effective way to transform IT operations without compromising the security of their information assets.
While cloud computing has the potential to greatly reduce capital expenditures and administration costs, there have been serious concerns regarding the security of cloud-based infrastructures and whether the model would be applicable to storing sensitive data.
The HP G-Cloud Theatre demonstrates ways in which cloud-based systems can withstand even the most serious threats and attacks. Based on technologies currently under development by HP, the G-Cloud Theatre deploys dedicated virtual machines to monitor other virtual machines in service.
Suspicious behavior such as unusually high central processing unit (CPU) utilization or changes in input/output activity trigger automatic responses. According to predocumented rules, services can be taken down, restarted, cloned or restricted. These service virtual machines also are isolated from others so any threat can be contained.
Martin Sadler, director of the Cloud & Security Lab at HP, said the G-Cloud Theatre shows a response to threats that is analogous to the human body’s response to disease:
“The G-Cloud can automatically respond to a threat, making a calculation of its seriousness and producing the equivalent of white blood cells to counteract it. When the threat has been removed and those resources are no longer required, it goes back to its previous state.”
Visibility of the server estate is provided by an innovative administrator console with a touchscreen user interface that generates 3-D images of server activity. For example, it depicts levels of utilization, the ease with which new services can be deployed or taken down, and how resources can be dynamically reallocated from one service ”cell” to another.
“It’s like a game or a movie where you have a virtual walkthrough of everything that’s going on in the cloud,” said Sadler. “You can zoom in for more granular detail or pan out to get a panoramic view.”
HP will work with customers and partners to create and refine services derived from the technology developed in the G-Cloud Theatre in the coming years. As well as government and public sector organizations, HP expects high levels of interest from private companies seeking mission-critical data protection in the cloud.
HP Labs Bristol is HP’s second-largest central research location and is among the premier corporate research labs in Europe. Since it opened in 1983, the facility has led in a wide range of technical fields and currently emphasizes cloud computing and security.
More information about HP Labs is available at http://hpl.hp.com.