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Top security tips for virtualisation

28 Nov 2014

Hamish Soper, Check Point Software Technologies New Zealand country manager, offers tips for virtualising business-critical appliances and applications like security services.

Virtualisation is now commonplace, with many New Zealand organisations capitalising on the advantages it brings: standardisation, simplification, consolidation and control.

As virtualisation rapidly continues to provision and support new services, the security concerns and challenges surrounding virtualisation should be addressed throughout planning and implementation.

There are many opportunities available to the New Zealand channel when virtualising security services for customers.

Security for virtualised environments Virtualised technologies consolidate critical applications onto one physical server, which can result in a single point of failure.

A new class of security challenges is met when securing the virtualised environment. A complete server consolidation or data centre modernisation proposal should treat security virtualisation like any other OS evaluation. This includes requiring an agile and dynamic configuration that has been field-tested in commercial environments.

Audit capabilities The preservation of event logs and audit capabilities depends entirely on the quality of the security virtualisation infrastructure and the effort invested in making it seamless with diagnostic and transaction logs.

Virtualised security services such as firewalls and authentication must be designed with the same logging capabilities as conventional appliances and applications. Virtualised servers can provide full event and transaction detail and segregation of customer data including meeting regulatory requirements for logging and audit trails.

Virtual security platforms Security runs on virtual machines in a virtualised environment. The same economic and operational benefits that apply to virtualising business and web application servers and databases are even more applicable and important for virtualising security services.

Business considerations Virtualisation is an effective technology for consolidation, scalability and provisioning.

Businesses should apply virtualisation as a measured approach in determining the platform, location and modelling of their service security. Ineffective use of virtualisation can, for example, inhibit enablement and life cycle management by way of conflicting service level agreements and change mechanisms between virtual instances sharing the same hardware.

Scalability The process of virtualising is about understanding its application to current and future states, depending on the business requirement. That is, a business utilising virtualisation to consolidate their internal systems should define a scalable solution measured by internal business growth.

This will be much different to a business providing the service of virtual infrastructure, who should instead define a scalable solution measured by their marketable product growth.

In all scenarios, scalability is the combined consideration of base hardware, core technology, memory capacity and software features against the number and, most importantly, size of each environment or service to be virtualised.

Most IT environments have security service appliances or applications that are underutilised much of the time. In addition to the opportunity to reduce physical space requirements, the New Zealand channel can help customers’ security teams yield lasting productivity benefits from the ability to centrally create, configure and manage enterprise-wide security services in a virtualised environment.