Confidential computing can secure the cloud, including the applications it powers, by isolating data and preventing unauthorized modification or access, according to executives at Google Cloud and Intel.
The relatively nascent technology, which aims to encrypt data while in use, is gaining momentum as cloud providers and chipmakers hasten development and upgrade offerings.
Confidential computing bolsters many of the strengths underpinning cloud infrastructure, Vint Cerf, VP and chief internet evangelist at Google Cloud, said during a call Monday with journalists and analysts.
“The important thing in a shared environment is to isolate everyone from everyone else, including from the provider of the cloud to certain facilities,” he said. “The confidential computing technique exactly achieves that objective so users are completely isolated from everyone including the vendor.”
Organizations that are compelled to show certain standards have been met to protect data for regulatory or insurance reasons could use confidential computing as evidence of their care for that objective, Cerf said.
Confidential computing creates additional value in a cloud environment because it allows multiple parties to do more with the infrastructure and data they already have, according to Anil Rao, VP and GM of systems architecture and engineering in the office of the CTO at Intel.
This includes machine learning services that preserve privacy in compute environments shared by multiple organizations.
“We want to make it such that people don't worry about the security and trustworthiness of their data,” Rao said. Organizations can use confidential computing to control their data and provide access to trusted parties in a manner that is verifiable, revocable and time sensitive, he said.
Confidential computing can’t solve all of these challenges today, but it’s showing promise and it’s reasonable to assume confidential computing will be a common use case delivering on this vision within five years, according to the Intel and Google executives.
The global confidential computing market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 25% and hit almost $8.2 billion by 2027, according to an October report by Research and Markets.
There’s plenty of work remaining and not everything in the cloud has the capability to provide confidential computing yet, but the vision and hope for the technology is broad.
“My honest belief is that the mechanism of confidential computing may actually be a way of surrounding software that might be misbehaving in a way,” Cerf said. “It isolates it from everything else in the cloud.”