A secure and scalable communication framework for inter-cloud services
A lot of contemporary cloud computing platforms offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service provisioning model, which offers to deliver basic virtualized computing resources like storage, hardware, and networking as on-demand and dynamic services. However, a single cloud service provider does not have limitless resources to offer to its users, and increasingly users are demanding the features of extensibility and inter-operability with other cloud service providers. This has increased the complexity of the cloud ecosystem and resulted in the emergence of the concept of an Inter-Cloud environment where a cloud computing platform can use the infrastructure resources of other cloud computing platforms to offer a greater value and flexibility to its users. However, there are no common models or standards in existence that allows the users of the cloud service providers to provision even some basic services across multiple cloud service providers seamlessly, although admittedly it is not due to any inherent incompatibility or proprietary nature of the foundation technologies on which these cloud computing platforms are built. Therefore, there is a justified need of investigating models and frameworks which allow the users of the cloud computing technologies to benefit from the added values of the emerging Inter-Cloud environment. In this dissertation, we present a novel security model and protocols that aims to cover one of the most important gaps in a subsection of this field, that is, the problem domain of provisioning secure communication within the context of a multi-provider Inter-Cloud environment. Our model offers a secure communication framework that enables a user of multiple cloud service providers to provision a dynamic application-level secure virtual private network on top of the participating cloud service providers. We accomplish this by taking leverage of the scalability, robustness, and flexibility of peer-to-peer overlays and distributed hash tables, in addition to novel usage of applied cryptography techniques to design secure and efficient admission control and resource discovery protocols. The peer-to-peer approach helps us in eliminating the problems of manual configurations, key management, and peer churn that are encountered when\ud setting up the secure communication channels dynamically, whereas the secure admission control and secure resource discovery protocols plug the security gaps that are commonly found in the peer-to-peer overlays. In addition to the design and architecture of our research contributions, we also present the details of a prototype implementation containing all of the elements of our research, as well as showcase our experimental results detailing the performance, scalability, and overheads of our approach, that have been carried out on actual (as\ud opposed to simulated) multiple commercial and non-commercial cloud computing platforms. These results demonstrate that our architecture incurs minimal latency and throughput overheads for the Inter-Cloud VPN connections among the virtual machines of a service deployed on multiple cloud platforms, which are 5% and 10% respectively. Our results also show that our admission control scheme is approximately 82% more efficient and our secure resource discovery scheme is about 72% more efficient than a standard PKI-based (Public Key Infrastructure) scheme.