As organizations increasingly think about infrastructure not in isolation but rather as the plumbing upon which applications sit, there is a corresponding move to think about how to make infrastructure that is "application aware." Appcito is one vendor offering a platform that promises to fulfill this very promise.
Appcito markets a product called CAFE. CAFE stands for Cloud Application Front-End and it is a subscription-based infrastructure management platform. The idea of CAFE is that enables infrastructure that helps customers move to a continuous-delivery way of working. Appcito is focused on the management aspects of infrastructure and covers the key areas that are needed to deliver robust infrastructure. According to Appcito, the key arms of the CAFE product are:
- Availability: Elastic load balancing and content switching, with built-in analytics and feedback capabilities to maintain high availability of applications.
- Performance: End-user performance optimization.
- Security: Web Application Firewall, distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection, and elastic SSL.
- Continuous deployment: Automated policy-driven traffic steering and traffic analytics for smooth code upgrades; request mirroring between production and Dev/Test.
- Insights: Application analytics and insights for optimizing performance, security, costs and deployment effectiveness.
The company is releasing the latest version of its product and is beefing up the security aspects of what it does. This is a smart move given the recent and increasingly common occurrences of web applications being the vector through which attackers make entry into an organization. Appcito has seen the heightened attention to security risks and is coming out with a strong message about the topic.
According to Appcito, traditional security solutions are not effective in today’s cloud environments due to the fact that attacks are shifting from targeting the network and infrastructure to targeting specific applications, which these security products are not focused on. That is a fair criticism of traditional security tools, but it ignores the fact that there are a significant number of new tools that are focused on application security specifically.
Either way, given that the move to cloud delivery dramatically increases the surface area of attacks, it is clear that a new proactive approach needs to be deployed to protect both the application and the cloud infrastructure it uses. As is often the case, the challenge here is to provide for robust security while still ensuring performance levels are maintained.
In terms of what is actually new in this release, the new features include:
- Virtual patching: Enables the development of rules defined according to attack categories of SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Local File Include, and Remote File Include.
- User option for application-specific rules: Covers vulnerability classes for applications, such as Swift, Microsoft SharePoint, WordPress, cPanel, osCommerce, Joomla, cPanel, Drupal, vBulletin.
- Denial of Service (DoS) Attack detection and protection: Works in a cloud environment at HTTP, SSL, and TCP levels.
- Daily monitoring and updates to vulnerabilities: Addresses activities occurring on the Internet. Rules and monitoring are included for SaaS environments.
The Appcito CAFE solution protects applications and e-commerce sites by providing security against OWASP vulnerabilities, delivering PCI compliance, enabling threat policies and analysis, and providing crowdsourcing capabilities to alert and instantly protect all applications against attack.
Application awareness is a no-brainer. It seems completely obvious but infrastructure has one job, and that is to provide the place for applications to reside. As such, infrastructure that is aware of the needs, the demands, and the performance of the applications it hosts is always going to be more valuable than "dumb servers."
Add to that application security as an integrated part of an infrastructure management platform and you have an interesting and useful offering. It's early days for Appcito and it would be a brave commentator that made any kind of proclamation about their opportunity, but it's safe to say they're onto something useful here.
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