Unisys has introduced a range of cloud products and services, with an emphasis on security for its tools for businesses to build private, public or hybrid clouds.
The Unisys Secure Cloud, announced on Tuesday, is a managed cloud service that promises to protect data stored in clouds based on a shared IT infrastructure. It uses the company's Stealth technology, originally developed for US Homeland Security, to shield one client's data in the cloud from another client. The technology cloaks the data from sniffing by splitting the bits into multiple packets and dispersing them across different storage sites.
"People can export applications written in .Net, Java or whatever onto our platform, and know they're secured to Stealth standards. So you're getting the cost benefit of rationalisation and cloud computing, without compromising security or compliance," said Neil Fisher, vice president of global security solutions at Unisys.
Security experts have raised concerns about the security and privacy of data held in the cloud, and have questioned whether the technology is mature enough to trust. In March, regulators from the US Federal Trade Commission said that cloud computing was "posing a risk" for the agency, in terms of oversight of control of personal data. Technology companies have responded to these concerns by setting up the Cloud Security Alliance and other forums, and vendors such as HP have come out with products marketed as secure.
Unisys's Secure Cloud service will become available on 31 July to customers of its Cloud Transformation Services, a consulting service to help businesses develop and deploy cloud computing. At the same time, the company is rolling out three SaaS services delivered via the Secure Cloud: hosted collaboration and communication; virtual office; and secure document delivery.
In providing a managed cloud service, Unisys will need to carefully balance security with flexibility, said Vuk Trifkovic, a senior analyst at Datamonitor.
"The problem is that you don't want to turn cloud computing into something so rigid and secure that it's no longer cloud. This sounds very much like a conventional managed service, or dedicated infrastructure arrangement, and it's something IBM, Cap Gemini and all the traditional IT services companies are trying to get their heads around," Trifkovic said.
Trifkovic also believes chief information officers are not necessarily putting off cloud-computing projects because of concerns about the security of cloud services, pointing to the success of cloud providers such as Workday and Success Factors, which handle sensitive HR data.
"Those companies are enjoying spectacular success, and there's an element of cognitive dissonance in trying to sell cloud computing by saying it's insecure, but you can make it secure," he said. "In my experience, the biggest inhibitor to cloud is that CIOs mostly don't have time to think about it yet."
The introduction of Unisys's Secure Cloud will be followed in December by the launch of a 'cloud in a box' product, which will combine a Unisys cloud platform with the Secure Cloud managed service, said Fisher.