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From Data Protection to Competitive Edge: The Rise of Confidential Computing

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When Intel brought the first hardware-enabled Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to the data center in 2018, the term "Confidential Computing" didn't even exist yet.  At that time, Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) were primarily used to protect hyper-sensitive data such as encryption keys, and you needed a fair amount of skill to get it integrated. 

Flash forward to today where a breadth of solutions exist in this emerging space. Almost every computing silicon vendor, public cloud service provider, and dozens of security software vendors and solutions integrators have products in-market today.  Intel has also expanded its capabilities, offering the most comprehensive Confidential Computing portfolio in the industry today:

  • Application isolation with Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX)
  • Virtual machine isolation with Intel® Trust Domain Extensions (Intel® TDX)
  • Independent trust attestation services, code-named Project Amber

Organizations all over the world are taking advantage of Confidential Computing as they migrate sensitive workloads to the cloud, exchange regulated data in protected data clean rooms, and deploy valuable software IP and control planes in edge compute environments, all running in TEEs designed to isolate them from the rest of the operating environment.

Confidential Computing protects data active in the processor and memory.  Along with storage and network encryption, which protect data at-rest and in-transit, Confidential Computing completes the three-legged stool of data protection by protecting data in-use.  It leverages hardware-based technology to encrypt and isolate sensitive data and code from the rest of the compute stack, designed so that vulnerabilities or breaches that leverage escalated privileges through the OS, hypervisor, or other apps and VMs would still not have access to the protected data.

As Greg Lavender noted earlier this year, Intel will continue to provide leadership with our technology and investments, and we are calling on the ecosystem to join us in the journey of taking Confidential Computing from niche to mainstream.

Intel is a platinum sponsor of the inaugural Confidential Computing Summit event on June 29, 2023 in San Francisco.  We will be showcasing the capabilities and uses of Confidential Computing, along with ecosystem providers including Opaque, Microsoft, Google, VMware, Fortanix, Anjuna, and Edgeless Systems. Intel experts are also sharing their perspectives on Confidential Computing with the attendees:

  • Xochitl Monteon, Intel VP and Chief Privacy Officer, will be delivering a keynote on the impacts of data privacy regulations on a modern IT shop.
  • Ron Perez, Intel Fellow and Chief Security Architect will be part of a panel on the latest Confidential Computing use cases.
  • Mona Vij, Intel Principal Engineer and Lead Researcher, will present current work and future directions to make pervasive confidential computing, from cloud-to-edge, a reality.

It's going to be an amazing display of not only what the future holds, but of what is available here and now.

The Confidential Computing Summit has been scheduled right after the Data+AI Summit also happening in San Francisco.  This is intentional as many of the most compelling usages for Confidential Computing are in multi-party analytics, and it is quickly becoming a must-have technology for enabling broader insights from data, especially sensitive and/or regulated data.

I hope you'll join me and my colleagues at the Confidential Computing Summit in San Francisco on June 29th to see for yourself how new data transformations are possible with your real-world scale workloads today.

About the Author
Ricardo (Rick) J. Echevarria is the vice president and general manager of Security Sales at Intel Corporation. A growth-minded business leader with more than 25 years of success spanning technology, cybersecurity, professional services, and enterprise software, Echevarria has held a variety of leadership positions with Intel Corporation. He has overseen divisions responsible for the corporate segment personal computing P&L, as well as the management, development, and delivery of Intel’s cybersecurity technology roadmap. Rick was instrumental in the growth and development of the worldwide software developer ecosystem for Intel architecture-based products and was responsible for building a worldwide professional services organization inside Intel. Before assuming his current role, Rick led Intel’s Olympics and Paralympics Office where he was responsible for establishing and accelerating Intel technology solutions in the market through exclusive and transformational integrations on one of the largest international platforms in the world, the Olympic Games. Rick has also been leading Intel’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative. This includes the management of a $50M fund targeted at investments in pandemic response and readiness, on-line learning, and ecosystem/partner innovation. Echevarria has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in computer systems management from Union College. He has also served as chair of the Intel Hispanic Leadership Council and has received the Distinguished Engineer Award from Purdue University’s College of Engineering.