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.

Security of Performance and Management tools within the Virtual Environment

The problem is that not everything is as black and white as security folks desire. If we implement performance and other management tools, we often need to expose part of our all important virtualization management network to others. But how do we do this safely, securely, with minimal impact to usability? Why do we need to this is also another question. You just have to take one look at the Virtualization ASsessment TOolkit (Vasto) to realize the importance of this security requirement. But the question still exists, how do you implement other necessary tools within your virtual environment without impacting usability?

Federated Clouds? Possible?

Mike DiPetrillo’s post entitled VMware is Building Clouds sparked some interesting thoughts and discussion about what it means to have federated clouds and how do you define such federation? Is federated required to make ‘cloud’ ubiquitous or are we already there? But is the discussion really about federated clouds or simplistic data object movement between the VMs or about cloud management?

When CloudFoundry was announced, my first thought was this is a nightmare waiting to happen. Why do I think this, because I was not thinking about Open Source developers but enterprise developers and the biggest issue with enterprise development is that the data used by developers is either made up data, but more often than not is actual production data. So the question becomes how can such data be protected when using PaaS public clouds?

Harris Trusted Cloud – Closing the Gap

On the 4/7/2011 Virtualization Security Podcast, we were joined by Wyatt Starnes of Harris Corporation. Wyatt is the Vice President of Advanced Concepts of Cyber Integrated Solutions at Harris. What this means, is that Wyatt is one of the key folks of the Harris Trusted Cloud initiative. Trust is a funny word, and we have written about that in the past. Harris’ approach is unique in that they are attempting to ensure integrity of all components of the cloud down to the code level, not just the network with their target being the hosted private cloud and NOT the secure multi-tenant public cloud.

There were two announcements over the last few days that struck me as quite important to the virtualization community. While some may question this statement, the long reaching effects of these purchases will impact virtualization and cloud computing in not so distant future. In fact, these purchases could add a whole new layer to vSphere as we know it today. Which for VMware is a good thing. They need to continue to innovate to stay ahead of the pack. The purchases I talk about are:

VMware purchasing/taking over control of EMC Mozy
RSA purchasing NetWitness

With the diversity of cloud’s available today, data being sent from one to another could appear to be a hodge-podge of security. As one colleague put it recently when I asked what he was expecting to maintain integrity of data in motion between clouds:

“… what kind of kludge can things end up being when you have multiple connections to multiple hybrid clouds all doing different things” — Steve Beaver

So how does data transfer between the clouds? Is it a kludge? or can it be done using a uniform security policy, procedures, and protocols while maintaining Integrity and Confidentiality and auditability?

VMware released 3 versions of vCenter Operations, standard, advanced, Enterprise. We have already discussed the abilities of vCenter Operations vCenter Operations – vSphere Performance, Capacity and Configuration Management with Self Learning Analytics but is this an integrated and secure implementation of monitoring or do we need more security than what is provided?

At the time the first article was written there was a bit of vital information we did not have available to us. That is how to access vCenter Operations Standard or Advanced in a multi-tenant manner, that has now been provided. vCenter Operations Alive functionality can be accessed directly from a web browser using your VMware vCenter Credentials, which allows you to see the Alive status of any VM you have the permissions to view. This capability is a huge capability, as it now allows me to provide a non-vSphere Client mechanism to view the status of the virtual environment.

Security as a Service: Is it Safe?

Last week I spoke with two different Security as a Service vendors, each with their own approaches to security as a service. The first company I spoke to was CloudPassage who just exited stealth mode in time for RSA Conference, and Zscaler who is a well known company. Both provide Security as a Service with a similar approach by a different design. Both make use of large grids or computers to do all the heavy lifting of security, but from there they differ completely. While there is some overlap in the products, the different designs show us multiple ways to implement Security as a Service.