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TU Berlin

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In the project SPiCE („SPICE: Security-Performance Trade-offs in Cloud Engineering“), we explore the complex interdependencies between security and different aspects of performance that modern, cloud-based systems are subject to.

In particular, we developed a structured method for rationalizing security-related configuration decisions which are in practice rarely backed by authoritative (ie quantitative) criteria and data but rather made on a gut-level basis all too often. Following this method, we experimentally assess the impact of different security configurations on the performance provided by big database systems broadly used in industry and research (Cassandra, HBase, etc.).

Through this approach, we identified manifold interdependencies between security- and performance-related characteristics. For instance, we found massive drops in matters of throughput with certain security options of HBase being activated. As the same level of security may also be achieved by other means that do not impact HBase performance, taking the additional costs for such measures may be the more efficient option, given that a certain target throughput can be achieved with fewer HBase nodes.

Obviously, such findings allow us to make normative statements on the concrete configuration and operation of respective systems that must meet certain security requirements (in order to comply with regulatory givens, for example) but at the same time have to provide defined performance characteristics and, not to forget, be as cost-efficient as possible.

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