Earlier this year, we wrote a news segment about AMD and Google’s announcement about bringing confidential virtual machines to the cloud using features enabled through 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors. At the time, AMD and Google marketed the announcement as the first commercially available cloud confidential VMs, powered through AMD’s Secure Encryption Virtualization feature. After writing up the news, I got a rather sternly worded email from IBM, stating that AMD/Google were not the first – IBM claims to have been offering confidential VMs to its client base for almost two years at this point. The difference I could find is that Google’s offering is more open-to-the-public, compared to IBM’s solution which is strictly more a B2B arrangement.
Today AMD and IBM are combining their effort in this space. In a press release today, the two companies have announced a multi-year joint development agreement to advance the use of confidential computing in the cloud, with a nod to accelerating artificial intelligence.
In the combined press release, the agreement is based upon a vision of open-source software, open standards, and open system architectures to drive confidential computing advancements across a wide range of markets such as high-performance computing, enterprise critical environments, through virtualization and encryption. The goal of this project is to protect sensitive data, especially datasets used for AI training as well as incoming data for inference. Both companies have openly discussed different cloud computing models, such as private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid-clouds, and according to analyst research presented through IBM and AMD, securing sensitive data is still a barrier to entry for organizations looking at deploying hybrid and scalable cloud strategies. Ultimately the goal here is to enable hybrid cloud with the same security as a private cloud, but accessible to more ecosystems local to where it is required.
The announcement today states that engagement between AMD and IBM is already underway. It does not state how long this ‘multi-year joint development agreement’ will last or the goal is to evolve into something more open with other members.