How we designed Ubuntu Pro for Confidential Computing on Azure

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Not all data is destined to be public. Moving workloads that handle secret or private data from an on-premise setup to a public cloud introduces a new attack surface with different risks. As the public cloud environment shares its hardware infrastructure, a flaw in the clouds’ isolation mechanisms can be detrimental to the protection of sensitive data. The major public cloud environments tackle this by building their security following a defense-in-depth approach. Confidential Computing is an additional layer of security in this environment to keep data private even when a flaw is found in the other defense mechanisms. While the field of Confidential Computing has attracted a lot of scientific and academic interest, today’s practical solutions involve isolated enclaves from the main system. In this post, we examine how isolation is achieved with Ubuntu Pro confidential VMs on the Microsoft Azure platform.

While there are multiple solutions involving secure enclaves today, they often require specialized software to take advantage of them. On the other hand, the Microsoft Azure confidential VMs only require changes to the operating system, while existing workloads run without any change on a familiar environment like Ubuntu. That makes it one of the most promising technologies in Confidential Computing.

Although the technology is still in a public preview phase, Ubuntu is one of the first operating systems to support it. You can join this preview phase today and validate your workloads against Ubuntu. For more information, see this quick start guide from Microsoft.

How can workloads


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