Made in IBM Labs: IBM Drives 'Fort Knox'-Like Security Into Virtualized Data Centers

Feb 06, 2007

IBM today revealed a new software technology from its Research labs designed to greatly enhance security and management capabilities in virtualized data centers.

The new advancement is the industry's first effort to embed trusted computing technologies directly into the virtualization and management software tools already used inside data centers. This new technology allows for stronger data integrity guarantees and offers a higher degree of confidence that workloads and data are secure.

Virtualized data centers are becoming increasingly common in business, where multiple workloads, consisting of operating systems, middleware and applications, reside on a single physical computer system. The IBM secure hypervisor architecture, or "sHype," is a Research technology designed to run in conjunction with commercial and open source hypervisors that control servers and data in a shared environment. sHype aims to provide a security "wrapper" around distributed workloads in the data center, extending mainframe-like security to pooled data and resources across multiple IBM and non-IBM systems.

sHype is designed to bring stronger security guarantees to popular x86 and blade servers. As is increasingly common, IBM Research developed the sHype technology not just in its own labs, but implementing early versions of sHype with customers to test and evaluate the code. Additionally, portions of sHype have been contributed to the Open Source community and are being used, for example, as part of the open source Xen hypervisor kernel.

"IBM is a major contributor to the Xen Project, and the adoption of their sHype mandatory access control (MAC) technology allows Xen to offer a unified security framework for Windows and Linux virtualization without compromising performance," said Dr. Ian Pratt, Xen project leader and XenSource founder.

Hoping to extend sHype beyond x86 hardware, IBM plans to introduce several other technologies with sHype as part of a comprehensive strategy to give customers the simplest, most secure and most efficient data centers possible.

"Thanks to the simplification benefits of the technology, virtualization adoption is on the rise but concerns about securing the virtualized data center persist," said Rich Lechner, Vice President, IBM Virtualization. "By putting security directly into the hypervisor virtualization layer, IBM Research has created a unique capability in sHype, providing clients with additional assurance that their virtualized data is protected."

Traditional IT security is based on built-in security for one or more user-chosen operating systems, and additional security from applications running on these operating systems. However, the steady stream of patches and updates required to protect the bulky code of an operating system and application stack is causing a heavy burden on customers.

Designing security into the much smaller, much easier to protect hypervisor architecture code creates a very tight wall of protection around physical resources in the data center, including the hardware, operating systems, applications, software hypervisors, workloads and virtual resources running in the now-secured environment. It also creates secure data pipes inside of a virtualized environment, essentially locking and monitoring data from outside threats or internal errors, by protecting the data from other workloads and applications running across the same virtualized data center.

sHype works in conjunction with hypervisors by establishing a virtual machine to act as a data center "security foreman." The foreman uses preset configurations, business policies and exceptions set by the customer to lock down all content of the data center. It then automatically sets policies that evaluate, rank and code workloads as well as the physical and virtual resources needed to run each workload. Once workloads and resources are locked together, the integrity of the data and resources is assured and can be better managed by hypervisors accordingly.

IBM Research has successfully implemented significant elements of their sHype architecture with multiple hypervisors as part of the company's effort to demonstrate the architecture's flexibility and security capabilities. IBM is also working with industry groups to help standardize the aspects of sHype in order to achieve strong guarantees in and to simplify management of security in heterogeneous virtualized environments.

Source: IBM

Explore further: A social-network illusion that makes things appear more popular than they are

Related Stories

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

51 minutes ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

1 hour ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

1 hour ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

14 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

EU open source software project receives green light

Jul 01, 2015

An open source software project involving the University of Southampton to extend the capacity of computational mathematics and interactive computing environments has received over seven million euros in EU funding.

Can computers be creative?

Jul 01, 2015

The EU-funded 'What-if Machine' (WHIM) project not only generates fictional storylines but also judges their potential usefulness and appeal. It represents a major advance in the field of computational creativity.

Algorithm detects nudity in images, offers demo page

Jul 01, 2015

An algorithm has been designed to tell if somebody in a color photo is naked. launched earlier this month; its demo page invites you to try it out to test its power in nudity detection. You ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.