IBM Cloud Joins Blockchain Startup iExec to Increase the Security of Decentralized Computing

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November 20, 2018 – Lyon, France. Empowered by the unique IBM approach to cloud security, iExec is extending the value of its cloud marketplace by helping enterprises run even their most sensitive workloads on shared hardware at the highest level of security. iExec’s story was recently featured on IBM’s blog, “Thoughts on Cloud”.

Decentralized computing is the new growing trend shaking the IT industry, with the potential to reach tipping points over the next years. From startups to big corporations, all actors are striving to propose new solutions that enable trusted computing on third-party computers that are by default not trusted.

The next revolution is decentralized computing

The past few years have produced a steady stream of innovations and technologies. The startup iExec has leveraged the most recent advancements in blockchain, cryptography and CPU enclaves to become one of the leading forces designing the cloud of tomorrow.

iExec offers a decentralized marketplace for cloud computing resources. Blockchain is used to organize a market network where anyone can monetize their servers, applications, and datasets. In parallel, customers have access to a convenient and cost-effective cloud infrastructure for running task-based workloads.

But while in classic cloud models, trust is guaranteed by the high security of the provider’s data center, how can we ensure trust when tasks are allocated to computers that are by default not trusted? How do we make it technically impossible for providers to gain any access to the data running on their machines?

Creating a secure, decentralized cloud

iExec can provide a high degree of security and privacy to the enterprises running code on its cloud thanks to the IBM zero-trust architecture. IBM is currently the only cloud provider that offers access to bare metal servers with Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) at data centers.

SGX is a technology that creates an “enclave” within a system, which is capable of running applications that are completely isolated from the host machine. It’s designed to ensure that even a root-level administrator can’t access or tamper with the code and data running in this enclave. This means it’s safe to execute code on SGX-enabled servers, regardless of your trust in the server’s owner.

“The IBM approach to cloud is predicated on the concept of a zero-trust architecture, whereby the user has complete assurance that no one else can access their data. This philosophy was a perfect fit with our own, and so we certified IBM Cloud as one of the first cloud resource providers globally in the iExec marketplace”, Lei Zhang, Director of Security Research & Development, iExec

Unlocking the benefits of decentralized cloud computing

The collaboration between iExec and IBM does not end there. IBM Cloud Data Shield is a new solution that uses runtime encryption to enable developers to adapt their existing applications to take advantage of SGX instead of having to build them with SGX compatibility from the ground up. iExec is already using Data Shield directly on the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service.

“iExec was an excellent partner to work with and they were instrumental in providing inputs that drove capabilities like secrets provisioning and attestation in the IBM Cloud Data Shield product. The iExec platform leverages SGX technology to deliver secure provisioning of secrets for dapps ensuring the complete protection of data and application execution environment.” Karna Bojjireddy, Program Director, IBM Cloud Security.

An IBM workerpool is soon to be made available for customers to use on iExec’s decentralized cloud marketplace. As iExec continues to develop its offering, IBM Cloud and Intel SGX will play a key role in reinventing cloud computing and unlocking the benefits of decentralized computing for both providers and customers, even in the most privacy-demanding industries.

Read more about iExec and IBM’s collaboration on IBM’s blog.

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