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Unisys & Cloud Computing: Anywhere, Anytime IT Needs Also To Be Secure

Cloud + Security = Unisys

It is increasingly clear that the economy has forced enterprises to rethink their traditional cost models and minimize their capital expenditures in favor of pay-as-you-go models; accordingly cloud computing, in any of its forms (internal, external, hybrid) is here to stay.

The size of data sets continues to grow exponentially and once data leaves a client's data centers, the ability of a cloud provider to meet the client's security, privacy and compliance requirements becomes a key issue.

This is where Unisys, with its recently announced four-part cloud computing strategy, comes in.

In an interview this week with SYS-CON's Cloud Computing Journal, Rich Marcello - President, Unisys Systems & Technology - described how the company is delivering on the first two parts this year beginning with its Cloud Transformation Services, announced June 30, followed by the Unisys Secure Cloud Solution which will become available on July 31.

Here's how Marcello summarized what Unisys is doing right now:

"A lot of vendors talk security in the cloud but we've tackled this issue head-on and believe we have an advantage. Security is inherent in all Unisys operations and offerings and, like Data Center Transformation and Outsourcing, is one of Unisys four key areas of strength.

We address security by ensuring operational excellence.  Unisys Secure Cloud services teams operate ISO 20000-certified delivery processes that are ITIL V3-compliant. All of this protection is delivered in independently audited and ISO 270001-certified delivery centers. We utilize security best practices - a layered multi-vendor approach to security with Intrusion Detection and Prevention Services (IDPS), firewall management, 24x7 security monitoring, advanced correlation and analytics, auditable logs, and so forth.

From a cloud perspective, our commitment is to provide a security framework that is as good as or better than any clients could establish for themselves. We do all of this and more with the addition of our patent-pending Stealth technology that allows private communities of interest based on FIPS 140-2, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption and cloaks the data with proprietary 'bit splitting'."

That "Stealth technology" Marcello referred to allows different groups in a multi-tenant client environment to share the same IT infrastructure without fear of exposing one client's data to another, Marcello pointed out, making it an important differentiator.

Dr Michael A. Salsburg, a Unisys Distinguished Engineer who has published and presented over 60 papers internationally in the fields of infrastructure and business service modeling, management and optimization, recently wrote a whitepaper titled "The Perfect Storm for Enterprise-Class Clouds" which also referred to security based on Stealth, as follows:

"For data-in-motion (data that is transmitted through the cloud network), Stealth not only provides a higher level of encryption than the standard approach (which is called Secure Socket Layer or SSL), but it also breaks apart the information into multiple streams. In this way, if another user of the cloud was monitoring the communication, that user would not only have to decrypt the stream but would also have to find the other streams that are part of the original message.

The term “Stealth” refers to the fact that, once a customer is “Stealthed” within its own community of interest, the actual existence of the communication path cannot be discovered by observers outside that community of interest. For data-at-rest, such as data stored on disk, the same techniques apply. The data is split into multiple stripes, and each stripe is encrypted. For both data-in-motion and data-at-rest, Stealth provides a new level of security and isolation that does not require changes to the application or hardware. Its simplified approach to isolation ensures that other communities of interest cannot detect that the data path exists, thus mitigating many of the requirements for network-based isolation through virtual LANs and other current techniques."

Salsburg's current focus within Unisys is the realization of real-time infrastructure management. Marcello noted, in the interview already quoted, that virtualization and automation are fundamental to cloud computing and for Unisys. "Our Real-Time Infrastructure technology powers our cloud," Marcello told Cloud Computing Journal's Jeremy Geelan.

"Virtualization is an enabler that helps us supply only the needed amount of IT resources based on the workload demand of the business at any given time. Automation adds elasticity to the environment, reduces the time needed for changes, and eliminates or at least simplifies the manual intervention in a potentially rapidly changing environment," he continued.

The whitepaper written by Salsburg ends with a useful vision statement which is worth quoting in full:

"Over the last 60 years Unisys has had the vision to develop and utilize new technologies and services for the benefit of the industry and our customers. Our mainframe systems have been using virtualization and automation technologies for over 20 years. We have taken the deep engineering capabilities in delivering highly available, high transaction systems with complex workloads and applied them to the evolving and consolidating marketplace.

Our ability to deliver RTEs and RTIs whether in-sourced or outsourced helps us provide the perfect platform for the emerging “cloud computing” environment. Our mission is to provide customers with the most open, cost effective and secure IT service environment by helping them understand, plan, implement and manage their IT infrastructure their way. Unisys is uniquely positioned to provide cloud computing that is secure enough and scalable enough for enterprise-class computing."

Marcello said on June 30 when the Unisys portfolio of solutions was announced that Unisys clients, while seeing great value in moving enterprise applications and data to the cloud, felt they had lacked the comprehensive security to make them confident in actually doing so.

Security, Marcello stressed, is in the DNA of Unisys, just as data center transformation and application modernization are its heritage.

Outsourcing services tailored to the client's specific business needs is a Unisys forté, he noted. "Our cloud computing strategy draws on all those core capabilities to help clients break through the barriers to adoption and gain a full range of options for cloud services while safeguarding their operations and lowering IT costs," Marcello said.

When asked by Cloud Computing Journal how an IT manager should decide if cloud computing is right for their business and which workloads to move, Marcello replied that it is really about understanding what makes the most business sense for the client and what they are trying to accomplish, adding:

"As part of the June 30th announcement, we have Unisys Cloud Transformation Services, available now, which allow clients to plan and migrate to the type of cloud environment that best meets their business goals. These services help clients assess what application workloads can be moved to the cloud, how that can be done, and the technology, financial and security implications of their choices."

Salsburg summarized those services in his whitepaper as follows:

"The services start with an assessment where the target data center is evaluated to discover workloads that could benefit from cloud computing. Once they are discovered, the software and storage requirements are evaluated regarding a shift into the cloud. Unisys does not require that applications be re-factored or rewritten.

The assessment services produce deliverables that lay out a low-risk plan to transform from the current state to a future state where the workload can take advantage of the key cloud attributes. Because no changes are required to the workload, there are no unique APIs to lock in the workload. With the Unisys Secure Cloud, you can receive customized services where your unique requirements and computing approach are retained."

Over the next several months, Unisys intends to launch additional solutions that give clients enhanced options in implementing cloud services.

Unisys plans a "cloud-in-a-box" solution as a comprehensive IT infrastructure package, aimed at enabling what it calls "quick and cost-effective implementation of a private cloud." This solution will include virtualization capabilities, automation of ITIL best practices for service management, and Unisys Converged Remote Infrastructure Management capabilities, with Unisys Stealth solution ("as an option for extreme security," the company says).

Unisys also plans to deliver "hybrid" cloud technologies that provide what it believes is the best of managed and dedicated services by combining public and private cloud capabilities.

Download the Unisys White Paper "The Perfect Storm for Enterprise-Class Clouds"

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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