Consortium to test Cloud computing for smart grids in Europe


November 23, 2010 – The Trustworthy Clouds project or TClouds, a new virtual infrastructure project was launched this week. The goal of the project is to prototype an advanced cloud infrastructure that can deliver a new level of secure, private and resilient computing and storage that is cost-efficient, simple and scalable.
To demonstrate TClouds, scientists will prototype two scenarios involving critical IT-systems including:
A smart energy grid with Portugal’s leading energy and solution providers Energias de Portugal and EFACEC: A combination of smart metering and a Web-based real-time status and energy consumption control system enables public utility providers to monitor and efficiently control a public lighting network. TClouds will show how such energy-preserving systems can be migrated to a cloud infrastructure while increasing their resilience, privacy protection and tolerance, from both hackers and hardware failures.

"Today, data can be gathered everywhere and accessed by anything, but doing so doesn’t come without some risk, including security and data loss," comments Dr. Matthias Schunter, technical leader for TClouds and computer scientist at IBM Research – Zurich.

"With TClouds we aim to demonstrate that the rewards in terms of both cost efficiencies and smarter services, such as healthcare and energy, can be achieved by using advanced cloud technology to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate those risks."

Inside TClouds
Protecting data and services in the cloud is a challenge of increasing importance for governments and organizations across all industries including healthcare, energy utilities and banking. In a cloud environment, all pertinent data is stored on remote hardware via the Internet instead of being kept on a local server or computer.

To achieve the security, resiliency and scalability needed when outsourcing critical IT-systems to a cloud, scientists will build an advanced "Cloud of Clouds" framework for the project. As the name implies, this framework will provide multiple back-ups of the TClouds data and applications in case of a hardware failure or intrusion.

Newly designed security mechanisms will also be developed to remotely verify the security and resiliency of the cloud infrastructure, guaranteeing the integrity of a hardened cloud computing platform to users of cloud services.

Besides advanced technology, TClouds will also study the legal, business and social aspects of cross-border cloud computing, such as country-specific privacy laws; writing cloud computing service agreements; and user-centric requirements, including languages and accessibility.

TClouds will be coordinated by Technikon Research and Planning in Austria and the partners include corporate and public organizations IBM Research – Zurich, Philips Electronics, Sirrix AG, Unabhangiges Landeszentrum fur Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein, Energias de Portugal, EFACEC and San Raffaele Hospital as well as academic research institutes Technische Universitat Darmstadt, Germany; University of Lisbon, Portugal; University of Oxford, England; Politecnico di Torino, Italy; Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and UNU-MERIT (University of Maastricht).

"TClouds is the most innovative cloud security research project in Europe.  Therefore, we have assembled a who’s who of expertise to validate that these hosted environments are ready for industry’s most secure and trusted data," comments Dr. Klaus-Michael Koch, project coordinator, Technikon Research and Planning.

The TClouds project is scheduled to be completed by September 2013.