Efforts to improve the security of cloud services will get a boost on March 21, when aeronautics and defence contracting giant Lockheed Martin will open a software testing laboratory in Canberra from which software engineers will be able to test their solutions against emerging cloud standards.
Details of the lab's opening emerged at a recent event in Melbourne to mark the one-year anniversary of the Open Data Centre Alliance (ODCA), a global cloud-standards body that has brought together Lockheed Martin and over 300 other users and vendors to hash out common technical and functional definitions for cloud computing.
The new facility – called the NexGen Cyber Innovation & Technology Centre, or NCITE – will offer a test bed in which solution partners can demonstrate and tweak their solutions against Lockheed Martin requirements and ODCA usage models. The ODCA currently offers eight such models, which cover a range of business scenarios including security monitoring, virtual machine interoperability, compliance-management best practice, carbon footprint management, and more.
"We really want the things they make, but want them to not tell us all the time that 'this is what you're going to get'," explained Lowell Bogard, NexGen CIO and LM Fellow with Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. "We want to tell them 'this is what we need'. The test lab will let us take these usage models and ensure they meet the requirements of everybody at the table and on the conferencing screen. It will give a voice to all those solution providers so they can bring us what we need."
One of those requirements – cloud-computing security – has been the subject of considerable work by the ODCA membership, which also includes local institutions such as steering committee member the National Australia Bank and recent addition the University of Melbourne.
That membership is drawing upon military standards to work up a security model for cloud services that includes bronze (basic), silver (enterprise-grade), gold (financial services-grade) and platinum (military-grade) security layers. Standardising these definitions will give cloud adopters a nomenclature to use when comparing cloud offerings from different providers, who can draw on the ODCA specifications to represent their offerings in a clear and consistent way.
These offerings will be modelled in PEAT (Proposal Engine Assistant Tool), a companion effort recently completed by the ODCA that allows cloud customers to specify their business and technical needs and translates them into consistent text that can be pasted into a cloud-services request for proposal (RFP).
As with Lockheed Martin's testing lab, the overall objective of such efforts is to ensure that cloud buyers and cloud service providers are speaking a common language when discussing cloud requirements.
"This gives providers the opportunity to customise their service base and customers," Bogard says. "Every country is having pressure on their budgets, so we're looking at how we can make things more affordable – and bring in the technologies that are new, and those that will take the government from the 20th to the 21st century."