Provenance also known as lineage and pedigree is described as derivative method that enables the providers of the configurable cloud computing resources to trace the history of the data product, starting from the original resource. This method involves the use of two steps: the ancestral data and process of transformation (Zhang, et al., 2012). Studies have shown that provenance can be used in various platforms, for example, the scientists’ uses provenance to determine the origin and the evolution of the data product of their interest through comparison of the two experiment and ascertaining the difference thus making accurate inference. The system administrators uses provenance to track the origin and spread of virus in the system.
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In the business community, provenance is used to trace information disclosure and detect the insider trading. In addition, system administrators and developers uses provenance to trace and detect origin of system failure as well as to debug complex programs that consists of multiple modules. Based on the discussion, it is clear that provenance is mainly used for detecting and tracing problems that affects computing system which include the cloud computing.
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The importance of provenance in cloud computing
Studies have indicated that provenance exhibits particular crucial features to the cloud computing technology. These include:
- Since cloud computing technology allows for widely and anonymously sharing of data documents, the presence of provenance is very crucial for authentication, verification and identification of the data.
- Where the data products originates from eScience and healthcare, the information shared require provenances for the purposes of repeatability of the findings in order to ascertain the quality and accuracy of the information presented.
- Organization as well as business that entirely relies on cloud computing to store their personal data, provenance is very crucial is ensuring that access of these information is only by the authorized persons. The provenance also enables them to detect abnormalities using content-based search process.
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- Provenance also allows the cloud computing to detect and trace the faults and security violation in the system.
- Research indicated that data auditability and confidentiality were ranked thirdly in terms of obstacles limiting the adoption of cloud computing. Further analysis indicated that organizations and business are very skeptical about security concerns of the cloud computing both from inside and outside the cloud. As a result, provenance was introduced in order to enhance the security measures and boost the confidence level of the users. Provenance allows the users to have more control over their data stored in the cloud computing.
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There are several governance, policies, regulations as well as legal issues regarding sharing and accessing of data products in the cloud computing. These policies and regulations may differ from one region to another especially when the law enforcers request for the access of data product in cloud computing (Zhang, et al., 2012). For example, the law enforcement in the United States are likely to face challenges if the data product of their interest is stored by the cloud computing provider that servers located outside the jurisdiction and geopolitical coverage. This mean the collaboration between the law enforcement from different jurisdiction is required. Also, some issue have raised issues about the possibility of the foreign government accessing their vital information since they were stored in servers within their jurisdictions. As a result, provenance enables the providers to determine whether the regulations, laws and policies put in place in particular geographical location or region allows the law enforcement to access the users’ confidential data.
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Challenges When Implementing Provenance
There are several challenges that cloud computing provider encounters when implementing provenance. Some of these challenges include:
- Challenges associated with virtualization. It is common knowledge that cloud computing is empowered by virtualization. This means that the needs to trace the data through virtual-to-physical mapping in order to increase transparency and security of the information is challenging due to requirement of enormous resource.
- Challenges associated with heterogeneous and dynamic nature of clouds computing. These challenge is brought about by the fact that cloud computing is diverse in services, availability, configuration and structure. Although this challenge can be addressed through interoperability which allows the independent of diversities that suits the needs of each consumer.
- The challenges associated with resilience and tolerance of cloud computing. In some instance PM granularity go down due to hardware failure. This affects the live migration of VM granularity. Therefore, provenance should be able to collect the information and help the system forensic investigation and debugging.
Security Measures to be Considered before Deploying Provenance
There are several security elements that should be considered before deploying provenance in cloud computing. Some these security elements include:
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- Integrity: It is important for the cloud computing providers to show to the users that provenance is a reliable and tamperproof.
- Auditability: The provenance should allow the auditors from quality assurance to check correctness and integrity of the provenance information. These include the ability to detect and prohibit suspicious users.
- Confidentiality: It is always important to ensure that provenance information is encrypted in order to enhance confidentiality. Some information can be very sensitive and leakage should be avoided by all means in order to guard against the compromises.
- Consistency: The information contained in the provenance should be consistent with the data it describes in order to avoiding misleading the consumer and service provider.
- Atomicity: Provenance information should atomicity store in order to ensure accurate and consistent description of data. Both atomicity and consistency allows for provenance data-coupling.
- Efficiency query: The primary function of provenance is to trace the lineage properties of a corresponding data of interest by external queries. This means that it is important to make querying process to be efficient.