Provenance for the Cloud

Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, Peter Macko, Margo Seltzer


The cloud is poised to become the next computing environment for both data storage and computation due to its pay-as-you-go and provision-as-you-go models. Cloud storage is already being used to back up desktop user data, host shared scientific data, store web application data, and to serve web pages. Today's cloud stores, however, are missing an important ingredient: provenance.

Provenance is metadata that describes the history of an object. We make the case that provenance is crucial for data stored on the cloud and identify the properties of provenance that enable its utility. We then examine current cloud offerings and design and implement three protocols for maintaining data/provenance in current cloud stores. The protocols represent different points in the de- sign space and satisfy different subsets of the provenance properties. Our evaluation indicates that the overheads of all three protocols are comparable to each other and reasonable in absolute terms. Thus, one can select a protocol based upon the properties it provides without sacrificing performance. While it is feasible to provide provenance as a layer on top of today's cloud offerings, we conclude by presenting the case for incorporating provenance as a core cloud feature, discussing the issues in doing so.