The Virtualization Practice

Virtualization Security

Virtualization Security focuses upon end-to-end security, integrity, auditability, and regulatory compliance for virtualization and clouds. Virtualization Security starts where the cloud and virtual environments begin: the end user computing device. ...
We follow the user through the virtual and cloud stacks until they reach the application the user wishes to use to retrieve the data that is important to them. Virtualization and cloud security is implemented where there is an intersection between user, data, and application while maintain strict control of management interfaces. As such virtualization security looks into all aspects of security devices, tools, controls, and guides that impact or can be used to secure virtual and cloud environments.

Whether or not to put data into the cloud has been a debate since clouds were first formed. At a recent conference I was asked:

with all the security issues you brought up, why should I go to the cloud, I do not know the administrators, nor can I gain cloud visibility, so why go to the cloud at all? and if so which cloud?

There are a myriad of reasons to go to the cloud, not the least of which is politics or being told to go to the cloud. When the real question is:

which cloud services is my organization already using and how can I gain control over the data being placed into the cloud.

Link your Clouds using AFORE Cloudlink

AFORE Solutions has created AFORE Cloudlink, which won the Best of VMworld for Security at VMworld 2011 in the United States. Yet, many people were scratching their head saying, who are AFORE and why did they win. AFORE moved from a physical appliance to a virtual appliance about 3 years ago providing a way to move data between data centers in an encrypted fashion, which at the time was desperately needed. After three years they have made quite a few changes, but still have their core functionality, but now included data at rest encryption and the ability to stretch layer-2 and layer-3 networks between locations amongst others.

On 9/22 was held the Virtualization Security Podcast featuring Anil Karmel, Solutions Architect at Los Alamos National Library (LANL), to discuss their implementation of secure multi-tenant Cloud. LANL makes extensive use of the entire VMware product suite from vCloud Director down to the vShield components to implement their SMT cloud. They have also added into their cloud their own intellectual property to improve overall cloud security. It was a very interesting conversation about the state of SMT today.

On 9/8 was held the Virtualization Security Podcast featuring Phil Cox, Director of Security and Compliance at RightScale, to discuss the impact of and need for automation of cloud security. Given that we create clouds by automating deployment of workloads we also need to automate the security of those workloads during the same deployment. This podcast delves into that need, and touches on where over automation is also a problem.

“The latest challenge on the security front isn’t necessarily an exotic new threat vector: it’s the attackers themselves. They’re organized, well-resourced and patient. And there’s no silver technology bullet to effectively combat them.”

This is a very important point, and one that I have seen at other security conferences for the last 5 years or so. However, attacks are possible because there is a lack of confidentiality and integrity of the data held within the systems under attack. So the system becomes the week point.

The week before VMworld on 8/25 was the Virtualization Security Podcast featuring Greg Ferro (@etherealmind), CCIE to discuss Cisco VM-FEX and its impact on virtualization and cloud security. VM-FEX is a method by which the fabric of a UCS top of rack switch is extended to the VM, but only if the VM is using VMDirectPath. So does this impact Virtualization and Cloud Security in any way?

If there was one thing I saw and heard about at VMworld, was the number of third party collaborations that were taking place. While not explicitly stated by VMware at VMworld, the show floor had many different collaborations that were taking place. This level of collaboration shows a level of maturity within the virtualization and cloud vendor ecosystems. A maturity, that shows that the vendors understand the benefits of leveraging other companies to lower their overall costs while producing better and more attractive products. Some of the collaborations I saw where purely the resale of products, while others were integrations between products.

VMware announced a loosely coupled group of vCloud providers that will use vCloud Connector to loosely couple their clouds, so that VMs can move from vCloud to vCloud without requiring you to renegotiate pricing, capability, and functionality with multiple cloud vendors, just your local one. This announcement is intriguing in that it is a move to push the cloud into the global space, but also fraught with peril if not done correctly.