The University of Southampton

Southampton Scientific Leader innovates secure information sharing for private clouds

Published: 5 December 2016
Professor Vladimiro Sassone

Fresh scientific direction from a Southampton cyber expert is advancing secure cloud computing solutions for the public sector in an EU research and innovation programme.

Professor Vladimiro Sassone, Director of the University of Southampton’s Cyber Security Academy, has reshaped the Horizon 2020 SUNFISH project since being appointed Scientific Leader in the summer.

SUNFISH, which stands for SecUre iNFormatIon SHaring in federated heterogeneous private clouds, is overcoming current infrastructural and legislative barriers to develop and integrate software enabling computing clouds for European public sector bodies. The project is first meeting the specific challenges faced by the Maltese and Italian Ministries of Finance, as well as the UK’s Regional Cyber Crime Units.

Professor Sassone, part of the University’s department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), has turned to the ‘blockchain’ distributed database method as an innovative infrastructure for base cloud computing. Under his leadership, the project has formulated the concept of Federation-as-a-service (FaaS).

“We had started the systematic study of FaaS, having identified blockchain as an exciting vehicle to implement the concept,” he said. “FaaS and blockchain are two largely independent things, but their combination – a new notion for cloud computing – offers us something really valuable and is already attracting the attention of the European establishment. The ideas were presented at the Italian Parliament in November in a round table discussion about the future of IT in public administration. I’ll also be speaking at a government conference in January.”

Professor Sassone believes the project’s technological solutions open the way for blockchain technologies to be used as an infrastructure to support the Internet of Things in the future.

His team, based in ECS' Agents, Interaction and Complexity research group, consists of researchers Andrea Margheri, Sadek Ferdous and Mu Yang, alongside PhD students David Young and Shorouq Alansari, and visiting student Edoardo Gaetani.

Dr Francesco Paolo Schiavo, Director General of Information Systems and Innovation at the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and Project Coordinator for SUNFISH, commented: “I’m very satisfied with the results we are producing. The appointment of Professor Sassone as the project’s Scientific Leader is proving really fruitful, and I am grateful to him for his work and commitment.”

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