NSF steps up research into cloud security, energy-efficiency

The National Science Foundation plans to invest additional time and money researching how to increase make cloud computing more energy efficient and more resilient to hackers and other malicious activity.

NSF outlined the results of its investment in cloud computing research in a Feb. 8 report to Congress. The report was in response to the Section 524 in the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010, which calls for research into new tools and techniques for cloud computing.

In the report, NSF identified areas that were considered to have significant impact on cloud computing and that would receive increased federal funding. Those areas range from computer systems to security to computer science education, and include a total of 125 active awards managed by various NSF divisions.

In addition to exploring different design paradigms for data center networks and delving into enhanced network support for clouds, researchers are exploring “green” clouds and developing ways to boost the energy efficiency of data centers. One project aims to cut down on data center energy use by creating simple "load-oblivious" policies that automatically scale data center resources to reduce power consumption.

Another project takes aim at cloud security, examining the defense architectures for cloud providers to detect and fend off threats. In addition to traditional malicious activity, today’s cloud providers also need to keep their users safe from each other: If one client suffers a malware attack, others should remain uncompromised, the report stated.

The report also details future cloud initiatives, including an upcoming workshop on the software engineering of cloud computing and research to address how to design the next generation of cloud systems, rather than using the current ones.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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