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Securing the new data center

Virtualization of core assets and the move to cloud require a fundamental rethink of security

By Bob Violino, Network World
July 16, 2012 08:09 AM ET

Network World - It’s hard enough to secure resources when they are bound to a physical box, but the game changes when servers are virtualized and start to move around, not only to other servers in the data center, but also to off-premise cloud facilities.

How do you stay out ahead on security in this dynamic, new, virtualized, cloud-ready world?

RESEARCH: Network World Digital Spotlight archive

Many businesses and government entities are transforming their data centers by broadly adopting virtualization and linking the dynamic new environments to public clouds, all in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency and agility. But the “new data center” presents daunting security challenges that can offset the benefits if not addressed proactively.

Targeted attacks and security breaches are the biggest threats to the next-generation data center. 

Security “is quite challenging in the virtualized data center,” says Ted Ritter, research analyst at Nemertes Research Group in Mokena, Ill. “From a security perspective, we’re always going to have a hybrid physical/virtual environment to protect, [which] means we’ll most likely have virtual and physical instances of security appliances in the infrastructure.”

One of the main problems with security in the virtualized data center is that security teams are approaching virtual server security the same way they’re approaching physical server security, Ritter says. “Many organizations use VLANs [virtual LANs] to route traffic from virtual machines out to existing physical security devices,” he says. “This works, but it hamstrings the agility and flexibility virtualization offers by limiting things like migration of servers and storage.”

This Network World Spotlight Digital Edition explores in-depth the evolving world of data center security. To download this pdf, become a Network World Insider (free registration is required).

Read more about security in Network World's Security section.

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