The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Edward Haletky

Edward Haletky
Edward HaletkyEdward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization. [All Papers/Publications...]

Over the past year or so I have been thinking pretty heavily about the direction networking is taking within virtualization. In some ways, it appears security has been forgotten or relegated to ‘encrypt’ and forget. However, it takes quite a bit of knowledge and time to properly set up the backbone of an ‘encrypt’ and forget approach to network security, so it does not happen. Instead, we have a proliferation of technologies being used to cut down on cable clutter and thereby consolidate the network. These are all very important concepts. Security practitioners like myself realize that this type of consolidation WILL happen. So what tools are required to either ‘encrypt and forget’ or to protect these consolidated networks?

There has been great debate of what comprises the cloud, how to bound the cloud so that its easier to understand, and how to secure the cloud. Christofer Hoff of the Rational Survivabilty blog has been spear-heading quite a bit of discussion on cloud taxonomy in his attempts to wrap some thoughts around how to properly secure the cloud and everything within it. The start of this journey is the act of defining exactly what the cloud is, and is not. NIST’s document adds some more to an existing definition by defining public and private clouds.

Intrusion Protection Systems (IPS) differ quite a bit from Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). An IPS is designed to modify some form of security setting when an intrusion is detected, thereby preventing the intrusion from being successful. An IDS on the other hand is just the detection component used by an IPS. Like all security tools used within a virtual environment there are four major ways to implement such devices. We will discuss later some best practices for managing a security tool. We will look at what is currently shipping over products hinted at for the future such as the OpenVSwitch, Xen Instropection API.

I was recently on an island and it got me thinking about whether a set of close islands can support a highly mobile cloud? If not what would be needed to make the Islands Cloud safer from the vagaries of Mother Nature, such as hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Can a cloud provider be based on an island? or would it need to be on every island? Only the mainland?

I was upgrading my nodes from VMware VI3 to VMware vSphere and used the VMware Update Manager to perform the update. Given that my existing filesystems were implemented to meet the requirements of the DISA STIG for ESX, as well as availability. I was surprised to find that when the upgrade of the first node of my cluster completed, that the install did NOT take into account my existing file system structure, but instead imposed the default file system used by the standard VMware vSphere ESX 4 installation.

I was recently on an island and it got me thinking of how would I move my company to the island. The company services people around the world, but would also service local to the island. Does virtualization really help me here? Why do I ask this, because an island is often prone to the vagaries of mother nature: Lava, Flooding, Typhoon, Hurricane, Earthquakes, humidity, desert, power fluctuations, etc. The list is pretty endless. So how would you move a business to or from an Island? Is this where the Cloud becomes a mature component? If so how much cloud do you need?

With the advent of VMware Go, vCloud Express, and the vCloud API, VMware’s marketing message is that all SMBs should use the cloud to either deploy their free hypervisor (VMware Go), or use the Cloud to run their servers (vCloud Express). VMware claimed at VMworld that we are no longer looking for ROI with Virtualization from a pure power and equipment costs, no we are now looking at virtualizing to save funds within the operational space of your company. Where best to do this than for SMBs to instead of owning their own equipment move their servers into the waiting vCloud Express providers such as Savvis, Terremark, Hosting.com, etc.

The known virtualization security vendors Reflex Systems, Catbird Security, Altor Networks, HyTrust, Symantec, Trend Microsystems, Tripwire, and VMware all showed their wares at VMworld. Even Checkpoint was showing off their firewall integration within the virtualized environment. Are these really competing products or products that have unique uses within the virtual environment with just a bit of overlap?

As of this writing just a few of the regulatory compliance groups are working to encompass Virtualization. However, they are not close to anything publishable yet. What does this mean for companies that must enforce regulatory compliance? What does this mean to an auditor? The big question many are asking, is if the Compliance documents to which they must adhere do not mention virtualization, are they compliant when they virtualize? Currently whether you get down checked or not during an audit depends entirely on the auditor’s interpretation of the current non-specific guidelines. In most case its negative as there is no guidance from the compliance groups with regards to virtualization. There are also virtualization security products out there that try to enforce and report upon current compliance guides with respect to virtualization.

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