One important business incentive is the desire to create a data center to improve handling of information systems and reduce operating costs. When you create long-term strategies aimed at optimizing the data center, the benefits can be substantial–reduced capital and operating, and greater business agility.
Currently, many organizations store and move more information than they had imagined in the past. This means that the data center has become a mere component of a broader IT strategy designed to foster business growth and improve its operational efficiency. But as organizations look at data center designs and consolidation, it’s time to think of greater visibility, adapting to new threats as they protest, coverage from beginning to end, integrating security into every network product and risk reduction by identifying threats and responding to it rapidly.
Virtualization raises a number of security issues as a single incident at the platform hosting endangers the entire virtual data center. The shared administration of multiple VMs at the host system creates new risks, as well as shared access to resources that were previously separated by physical borders. Managing these risks is crucial, especially for securing personal data and in case of outsourcing, where the administration of virtualized environments is entrusted to one or more third parties.
To get the most out of a virtualized data center environment, IT managers must know their goals and current environment such as server virtualization, network virtualization and communication ports, VOIP telephony, security and surveillance. This however poses major technical challenges in terms of new security and it is essential to understand and integrate your priority based on your assessment.
- Why it is so important to prioritize your goals
- How to determine the right time to work out on security
- What are the most important points in systems security integration
- What impact data center virtualization can have on your resources
- What must be considered in terms of security and disaster recovery
Based on the assessments, you can consider these five steps for a more secure virtualized data center.
Create a Security Policy Framework
To reduce security risks inherent in virtualization, a technology-independent access control or a security policy mechanism must be used together to safeguards systems. Some of the vulnerabilities that were previously controlled by a system of physical security must now be supervised by granular access controls on the virtualization platform.
A security policy may include governmental and industry regulations on safe application enablement policies, disaster recovery plan and more. In addition, the security policy should be aligned with the business objectives for the organization.
The proliferation of virtualized environments has led to an increase in all types of security risks as organizations lose visibility and control over the flow of traffic between virtual machines (VMs) and traditional tools cannot control.
To counter this, many organizations deploy virtual firewall in order to inspect and strengthen networks security policies. Additionally, organizations are looking to take advantage of the migration of data in real time. However, the migration of a VM to a physical server must be done with the tools necessary because otherwise it is possible to alter the ground rules and connection tables while performing the migration.
Benefits of implementing a security policy include:
- Reduce risk by quickly identifying and responding to emerging threats;
- improve compatibility with the introduction of business policies and the application of best practices;
- Better control by adapting to new threats as they arise;
- Full coverage as a means of protection built into all products in the network;
Understand Who is Accessing your Data Center
Virtual environments require a special security treatment because conventional tools that exist as of today do not cover completely all requirements of the virtual world. The increasing mobility of firms makes it necessary to guarantee fast access to real-time applications by employees who travel and work outside the headquarters. This makes the strengthening of access based on hierarchies of users and the largest number of TCP connections for each customer interaction.
To ensure adequate access to each element of the application, organizations must rethink their security strategy based on the identity and role of the user. It is possible to define access privileges to an application based on IP addresses because environments are dynamic and are scattered.
Benefits of implementing access control levels:
- Visibility and control of traffic flows between virtual servers
- Extension in the allocation of security policies to virtual environments
- Assigning access control to services
- Enforcing security mechanisms in applications
- Network stability by regulating networking adjacencies
Define the Applications in the Data Center
Virtualization of multiple servers within a single appliance is a new type of environment that requires new methods of protection between applications and information from each other without restoring to physical security appliances.
An extra layer of application protection is necessary to effectively protect the virtualization platforms. This layer must correctly identify administrators, developers, DBAs and users and assign minimum privileges to protect information and strategic services of virtual data center.
It must protect the virtual environments at several levels:
- Operating systems hosting a hypervisor,
- Implement a virtualization application model based on hosted application,
- The privileged partitions managing virtualization based on a hypervisor
- The critical resources of virtual machines running on all systems or partitions.
- Deploying next-generation firewalls in monitor mode to get visibility into all data center traffic
Defining and securing applications in virtual environments ensure:
- Eliminating the need of additional security appliance to protect virtual applications and therefore reducing cost.
- Increased opportunities for audit, compliance, and risk management through logging mechanism.
- Rapid deployment for provisioning or disaster recovery.
Prepare for Threats in Your Virtualized Data Center
The combination of cloud-based web browser, mobile data platforms, and those of social network are contributing to the emergence of new threats – including highly organized botnets and denial-of-service attacks or automated script-kiddie attacks that can open communication channels capable of compromising the confidentiality of data.
While talking to the hype about new threats and new methods developed by hackers, it is essential to secure your virtualized data center from hypervisor to guest operating system and application.
Having security solutions at various levels since the start of the extension of virtualized data center initiatives is essential to meet the primary objective of secure data centers and eliminating threats that may arise at later stage.
Segment Your Virtualized Data Center
The data center that is compatible with cloud computing requires the efficient allocation, expansion and rearrangement of network resources. It is thus important to segregate the virtualized data center network to create virtual trust or security zones based on the following factors: coordination of functions, network bandwidth, priorities, access control, and application requirements.
This trust zones act like a barrier on shared resources by dynamically partitioning the virtual infrastructure into distinct groups or resources and enforce different network communication policies for each group.
Segmentation ensures that vulnerable parts of the data center are not inherited to other parts of the network. It also enforces policy-based segmentation and enables IT to manage the virtual enterprise based on existing organizational business processes.
On a conclusion note, virtualization offers significant advantages to IT departments and developers. However, while realizing these gains, companies must not lose sight of the need to protect virtual environments, as well as physical infrastructure.
Virtualization actually increases the security risks associated with the servers. To manage these risks, it is first necessary to limit the access rights of each user to the minimum required to perform their jobs. Protection against external threats is more critical because virtual machines are dependent on a platform and common physical resources.
Finally, compliance and implementation of best practices relating to safety assume that firms are able to prove that they have established an adequate access control.