Unisys Aims for Greater Security in the Cloud

Unisys is rolling out the first offerings in its overall Secure Cloud Solution, a cloud computing strategy that offers a high level of security. Unisys officials argue that security is the key issue that's holding back adoption of cloud computing, and that its Stealth security technology is a key differentiator as Unisys looks to gain headway in a competitive space that includes the likes of HP, IBM and Sun.

Unisys is looking to carve a spot for itself in the heavily competitive cloud computing space by removing what company officials say is the top impediment to adoption: security.

Unisys June 30 unveiled a cloud computing strategy that relies heavily on a patent-pending security technology officials call Stealth, which the company initially created several years ago for government agencies looking to secure their data. Unisys is now making that technology available to businesses for use in either private or public clouds, or a hybrid of both.

Rich Marcello, president of Unisys' systems and technology unit, said that businesses are taking a hard look at cloud computing as a way of helping them manage their IT operations, particularly during these recessionary times. However, use of the computing model hasn't expanded much beyond testing and development area because businesses are wary about putting sensitive data in the cloud, Marcello said in an interview.

"We think the No. 1 problem is around security," he said.

Unisys is looking to address that issue with its multiprong Secure Cloud Solution strategy, which includes helping businesses set up internal cloud computing environments or letting them access computing clouds in Unisys' own data centers. Businesses also will be able to take a hybrid approach, using both models.

The company rolled out the first two steps in its overall cloud strategy. The first is the Unisys Secure Cloud Solution, a managed cloud service that spans Unisys' global data centers that offers full data security in an environment where multiple users share the same IT infrastructure. The Unisys cloud provides "as a service" offerings for infrastructure, platform, software and applications.

It's Unisys' Stealth technology-which is integrated into the Secure Cloud Solution-that secures the data for each customer, even though all customers share the same IT infrastructure. The technology puts the data through several layers of authentication, encryption and bit-splitting into multiple packets, and then creates pathways in the network that enable the encrypted data to move securely throughout the network, essentially invisible to others that also are using the infrastructure. The data is then reassembled when it's delivered to authorized users.

In addition to securing the "data in motion" as it winds its way through the network, Unisys also are planning on using a Stealth technology "data at rest" that are on SANs (storage-area networks) in the cloud infrastructure.

Such security is a key differentiator for Unisys as it competes with such heavyweights as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems in the cloud computing space. And it's an area expected to grow rapidly. Analysts at IDC said in March the cloud services market should triple to $42 billion by 2013.

"The economic crisis is really accelerating the move to cloud computing because companies do not want to put out money up front for IT," Marcello said. "We believe that now, given how secure [Unisys' model] is, that we go after it."

The Unisys cloud computing offering, available July 31, also comes with a self-service portal that enables businesses to scale the compute resources in real time.

Unisys also announced its Cloud Transformation Services, designed to help businesses determined whether cloud computing is a good fit for them, both financially and technologically. The services also will help customers decide whether the Unisys cloud, a private cloud, or a combination of both is the best direction to take.

The services touch on advice around cloud computing, assessment of a business' IT readiness for a move to cloud computing, and a migration plan for helping the customer make the move.

Over the next year or so, Unisys will expand its cloud offerings, including an IT infrastructure package that will enable businesses to launch internal clouds. The package will include automation of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) best practices for service management, virtualization capabilities and remote management capabilities. Stealth will be offered as an option for greater security.

Unisys also will roll out a hybrid cloud offering.