Investment in Cloud Computing Research Pays Off

UT Dallas Computer Scientists Make Advances in Key Aspects of Growing Field

Apr. 19, 2011

The decision three years ago by UT Dallas researchers to bolster their efforts in the field of cloud computing is paying dividends: Not only do they now have $5 million in cloud-related research, but their graduate students find they have their choice of internships and job offers.

Indeed, two recent PhD graduates have been hired by leading corporate players in the field, Amazon.com and IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center.

Cloud computing is a model for providing on-demand Internet-based access to a shared pool of computing resources, including networks, storage and applications. It’s meant to make it as simple to obtain an array of electronic data resources as it is to get electricity itself.

One key to the UT Dallas group’s success has been the breadth of its approach.

“We have established a reputation for conducting interdisciplinary research among computer scientists, management scientists, social scientists, behavioral economists and risk analysts,” said Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, director of the University’s Cyber Security Research Center and a Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Her team includes associate professors Latifur Khan and Kamil Sarac and assistant professors Murat Kantarcioglu and Kevin Hamlen.

Another key has been the research group’s focus on data security.

“When incorporating security, you must carefully consider both the risks and costs involved as well as the tradeoffs between privacy and security.”

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham

“When incorporating security, you must carefully consider both the risks and costs involved as well as the tradeoffs between privacy and security,” she added. “We started focusing on interdisciplinary research in cyber-security in 2007 by working with our colleagues at UT Dallas and with researchers at Purdue University, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.”

Discussions are now also under way regarding additional collaborative work with researchers at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute and with scientists at Telcordia Technologies Inc.’s Austin Research Center.

The growing demand for cloud computing stems from the need to securely store, manage, share and analyze immense amounts of complex data in many areas, including health care, national security and alternative energy. And although several companies have launched commercially available cloud systems, two areas still need significant improvements, Thuraisingham said: the security mechanisms needed to protect sensitive data as well as the capability to process huge amounts of both geospatial data and what’s known as semantic Web data.

“To address the limitations of current cloud-computing platforms,” she said, “we are using state-of-the-art hardware, software and data components combined with a secure cloud-computing framework we are developing for multiple agencies, including the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, as well as corporations such as Tektronix and Raytheon. We’re confident our progress will help significantly advance the field of cloud computing as a whole.”

The first tools developed can already be found in the University’s cloud repository at cs.utdallas.edu/secure-cloud-repository/.

A paper by the UT Dallas cloud-computing group, meantime, is one of only 36 accepted (from among nearly 200 submitted) for presentation at this July’s Cloud 2011, the fourth international conference on cloud computing sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. And additional papers will appear in upcoming issues of the IEEE’s Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Transactions on Management Information Systems.

In addition, complementing the research under way, Thuraisingham will introduce a new course next spring called “Building and Securing the Cloud.”


Media Contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham

Prof Is Recognized for Contributions
to Field of Computer Science

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham’s career extends back to well before the advent of cloud computing, and her long-term contributions to the field of computer science were recently recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery.

Last fall the organization’s Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control presented her with its Outstanding Contributions Award for “seminal research contributions and outstanding leadership in data and applications security for the past 25 years.”

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