HP offers G-Cloud security vision

In its G-Cloud demo, the company showed how provisioning of virtual machines (VMs) could be managed by the Government's service providers, who would receive alerts when security events occurred.

For instance, when malware is detected in a VM, administrators at the service provider could choose to shut down VMs completely and replace them with new ones by simply pressing a button.

Alternatively, they could remove certain VMs, analyse them in a sandboxed environment and then take action.

When it becomes clear VMs are being requested to form part of a botnet, meanwhile, administrators can simply deny provisioning.

For setups requiring more granular policies, service providers would be able to tailor their policies to meet security and compliance needs.

In HP's vision, a service provider could allocate more VMs or make decisions on events from a smartphone - or other mobile device.

The infrastructure provider, meanwhile, would have an overall view of all the different allocations of its servers and could take actions itself where necessary.

As for the end user, they wouldn't see much of what was going on behind the scenes, nor would they need to, so any IT worries would not be theirs to deal with.

HP is keen for the Government to come and learn more, even though it's had talks with officials.

"It's just the right time for them to come and learn from us and others as to what's happening and where things are going," said Patrick Goldsack, distinguished technologist at HP Labs.

But is the G-Cloud model HP has come up with workable just yet? Not quite, according to Goldsack.

"Different bits of the technology are in different states of readiness,' he told IT PRO.

"Infrastructure as a Service, on a moderate scale, would be reasonably real. Are we convinced we have the fundamental design and stuff like that? Yes."

Other areas, including threat mitigation technology and the visualisation interfaces, are still under research, Goldsack admitted.

So perhaps the G-Cloud vision, or whatever the Coalition has labelled its cloud plans, is a little way off yet.

Yet the benefits are clearly there. During the demo, the provisioning and deprovisioning of VMs was startlingly fast, with around 10 created for a mock service provider in around five minutes.

When compared to non-virtual machine deployments, it's a significant difference. As noted, the security controls are there too.

If talks continue to take place and the Coalition makes solid steps forward soon, rather than simply talking about it, the G-Cloud could be a reality before the next election rolls around and IT projects are disrupted.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.