January 23, 2012
With the current trend toward nearly-ubiquitous cloud computing, maintaining data security is of paramount concern. To assist with that important goal, a group of Austrian researchers are looking at quantum computing's potential to enable secure data processing on remote servers. A paper based on their work, "Demonstration of Blind Quantum Computing," was recently published in Science, along with additional commentary here.
Encryption has long been considered one of the killer apps of quantum computing. The fundamental unit of quantum mechanics, called a quantum bit or qubit, can exist as both zero and one simultaneously, enabling an extreme level of encryption that cannot be cracked by traditional computers. Using the principles of quantum cryptography, as this field is called, European researchers demonstrated that quantum computation can be performed on a remote server, while remaining securely encrypted. The research was carried out at the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ) at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI).
The details of the experiment were shared in a prepared statement:
The user prepares qubits – the fundamental units of quantum computers – in a state known only to himself and sends these qubits to the quantum computer. The quantum computer entangles the qubits according to a standard scheme. The actual computation is measurement-based: the processing of quantum information is implemented by simple measurements on qubits. The user tailors measurement instructions to the particular state of each qubit and sends them to the quantum server. Finally, the results of the computation are sent back to the user who can interpret and utilize the results of the computation. Even if the quantum computer or an eavesdropper tries to read the qubits, they gain no useful information, without knowing the initial state; they are "blind."
The computation is "blind" in that the quantum server performs its calculations, but does not have the ability to find out what it is doing. At present, this functionality is not thought to be achievable using traditional computation, which relies on classical physics principles.
According to Stefanie Barz, the lead author of the study, "Quantum physics solves one of the key challenges in distributed computing. It can preserve data privacy when users interact with remote computing centers."
While this is an exciting development, it bears mentioning that quantum computers are still in the development stage and when they do come on the scene, their sheer expense, not to mention energy requirements, will put them on par with the highest-echelon supercomputing centers. A process known as "quantum annealing" shows the most promise to date.
Researchers from the Suddhananda Engineering and Research Centre in Bhubaneswar, India developed a job scheduling system, which they call Service Level Agreement (SLA) scheduling, that is meant to achieve acceptable methods of resource provisioning similar to that of potential in-house systems. They combined that with an on-demand resource provisioner to ensure utilization optimization of virtual machines.
Experimental scientific HPC applications are continually being moved to the cloud, as covered here in several capacities over the last couple of weeks. Included in that rundown, Co-founder and CEO of CloudSigma Robert Jenkins penned an article for HPC in the Cloud where he discussed the emergence of cloud technologies to supplement research capabilities of big scientific initiatives like CERN and ESA (the European Space Agency)...
When considering moving excess or experimental HPC applications to a cloud environment, there will always be obstacles. Were that not the case, the cost effectiveness of cloud-based HPC would rule the high performance landscape. Jonathan Stewart Ward and Adam Barker of the University of St. Andrews produced an intriguing report on the state of cloud computing, paying a significant amount of attention to the problems facing cloud computing.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/02/2012 | AMD | Developers today are just beginning to explore the potential of heterogeneous computing, but the potential for this new paradigm is huge. This brief article reviews how the technology might impact a range of application development areas, including client experiences and cloud-based data management. As platforms like OpenCL continue to evolve, the benefits of heterogeneous computing will become even more accessible. Use this quick article to jump-start your own thinking on heterogeneous computing.