IBM secures SoftLayer with Intel trusted modules

Fortifying its SoftLayer cloud services for enterprise use, IBM has started using Intel’s chip-based Trusted Execution Technology to help organizations in highly regulated industries meet their auditing and security compliance requirements.

On Monday, IBM started offering bare-metal cloud servers—servers with no software installed—with Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) monitoring and security tools.

TXT can offer a “chain-of-trust” from the SoftLayer servers back to an organization’s internal auditing and compliance monitoring processes, said Marc Jones, IBM SoftLayer chief technology officer.

TXT provides “a validation that the device hasn’t been tampered with, and that there isn’t any man-in-the-middle spoofing,” Jones said. “We can offer a chain-of-trust from the customer’s on-premise environment to the SoftLayer environment.”

The Intel TXT validation can provide evidence that organizations can use to comply with security regulations across industries such as healthcare, financial services and government organizations.

Built into Intel’s Xeon processors, TXT works by verifying all the different components in a server—from the firmware up to the operating system or hypervisor—are authentic, in that they haven’t been replaced with malicious components that could intercept or alter data or disrupt operations.

TXT also offers the ability to identify the exact location of a server through geolocational tracking, so the customer can be assured that its cloud server is located where SoftLayer claims it to be.

Many government agencies require that their external cloud operations take place within their own jurisdiction. With TXT, “I can know where my servers are in the cloud,” Jones said.

This is not SoftLayer’s first use of TXT. IBM partnered with Virtustream to use the TXT technology to establish secure links for SAP implementations that run both in the cloud and on-premise.

The Intel TXT feature is available on SoftLayer bare metal servers, running either Intel Xeon E5-2600 V2, Xeon E5-1200-V3 or Xeon E5-4600. Additional Intel processors will be added as they are released.

IBM purchased SoftLayer in July 2013 for US$2 billion to strengthen its cloud services. Today, IBM offers over 100 software services through the cloud, and the SoftLayer infrastructure runs 18 IBM data centers worldwide.

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