IBM Helps Create Cloud System for Health Care, Energy Grid in Europe

IBM and a European consortium will test TClouds on a Portuguese smart energy grid and in an Italian home health-care system to increase resiliency and lower cost.

A European consortium that includes IBM, security provider Sirrix, a Portuguese energy provider, and European academic and corporate research organizations have unveiled a virtual infrastructure project called Trustworthy Clouds, or TClouds.

The group aims to make a cloud that's secure and private while also cost-efficient and scalable, according to IBM.

TClouds began on Oct. 1, will last until Sept. 30, 2013, and will cost $14 million.

"Protecting data and services in the cloud is important to governments, organizations and enterprises across all industries, including health care, energy utilities and banking," according to the TClouds Web site. "Thus, the perceived security and dependability risks of cloud computing are limiting its application."

The consortium will test TClouds on a Portuguese smart energy grid and in a home health-care system in Milan, Italy. The consortium chose energy and health care for their social significance, according to the TClouds Web site.

In Portugal, the consortium will collaborate with energy providers Energias de Portugal and EFACEC to control real-time status and energy consumption on a public lighting network using TClouds.

San Raffaele Hospital, in Milan, will coordinate with a home health-care service to care for patients remotely. Doctors will be able to monitor and diagnose patients via the cloud away from the hospital.

Using TClouds, patients, doctors, and pharmacists can manage the full medication life cycle, from prescription to delivery to reimbursement, according to IBM. The consortium aims to increase the costs of health care while maintaining privacy.

"Today, data can be gathered everywhere and accessed by anything, but doing so doesn't come without some risk, including security and data loss," Dr. Matthias Schunter, technical leader for TClouds and computer scientist at IBM Research - Zurich, said in a statement. "With TClouds we aim to demonstrate that the rewards in terms of both cost efficiencies and smarter services, such as health care and energy, can be achieved by using advanced cloud technology to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate those risks."

Technikon Research and Planning, a technology consulting firm in Austria, will coordinate the TClouds project.

"TClouds is the most innovative cloud security research project in Europe," Dr. Klaus-Michael Koch, project coordinator for Technikon, said in a statement. "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."

As part of the project, announced on Nov. 22, a Cloud of Clouds framework will back up the TClouds data and applications in the event of a hardware failure or security breach. The Cloud of Clouds will incorporate security middleware.

With TClouds, the consortium will explore legal, business and social implications of using cloud computing across various countries' borders. The consortium will research how various privacy laws, cloud service agreements and different languages will impact the project.

Philips Electronics; the University of Lisbon, Portugal; and the University of Oxford, England, are among the parties participating in TClouds.

Meanwhile, IBM, Aetna unit ActiveHealth, and health care IT company Medens recently launched a cloud health network in Puerto Rico for 11,000 physicians.