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Selecting Cybersecurity Solutions for Hybrid and Hyperscale Data Centers

Oct 03, 20236 mins

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Hybrid and hyperscale data centers need cybersecurity solutions that won’t hinder an organization from doing its business. However, there are far too many data center environments that still rely on outdated traditional firewalls. Because these legacy firewalls underperform and underserve, IT teams are being pushed into making perilous trade-offs between security and performance. 

Since there is much at stake—and so little expert guidance available—choosing the right solutions can be extremely difficult for organizations. Below are eight key factors for IT leadership to consider when securing their modern data center infrastructure:

  1. Cross-Platform Management and Analytics

Organizations increasingly rely on a mix of on-premises and cloud-based compute platforms. Hybrid architectures are compelling security professionals to view data center protection as part of a broader security fabric, one that encompasses both on-premises and multiple cloud platforms.

One way to achieve this is by applying a hybrid mesh firewall (HMF) strategy that uses unified management and analytics to coordinate threat protection across all firewalls, including those deployed in data centers, campuses, and branches, as well as within cloud platforms. This method protects applications and data with consistent policies that are managed by the same security solution. 

  1. Visibility and Control

Defending against threats to networks requires shrinking an organization’s attack surface. Start with ensuring that the traffic flowing between and through every network segment and the data being accessed are thoroughly inspected and consistently protected. This requires a solution that consolidates resources while establishing complete visibility and control across the entire environment. Every device connecting to a data center network is a potential threat vector, therefore, your security solution must also support appropriate zero-trust strategies like zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and SD-WAN. An organization’s security posture must also seamlessly extend beyond the traditional on-premises data center. It needs to provide unified visibility across all environments (on-premises, colocations, clouds, and any combination of those), including users, applications, and devices. It must also include protections like intrusion prevention systems (IPS) that check for and help guard against advanced threats by monitoring the network in real time.

  1. Zero-Trust Principles

The principles of a zero-trust strategy are based on implementing privileged access and adaptive trust. The zero-trust model considers all transactions, movements, or iterations of data as suspicious. When properly deployed, a zero-trust architecture tracks user conduct, network behavior (users to users, user to machines, machine to machine), and data flows. When anomalous behavior is detected, a zero-trust solution alerts security teams or revokes access. The best security solutions for hybrid and hyperscale data centers enforce zero-trust policies.

  1. Segmentation

By segmenting network traffic, organizations can establish control points that reduce a cyberattacker’s ability to move laterally inside a network, including the data center, to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Data center security solutions must natively support segmentation options to limit the size of the attack surface.

Start by classifying traffic into different segments, especially at the application and port levels. Note segmenting can also be done at the host and network levels. Also, many organizations use zero-trust principles to segment by identity.

  1. Time to Service

Many legacy data center security solutions deliver low performance and high latency, meaning organizations can’t provide services with the time, agility, and reliability that their hyperscale business demands. Even a tiny amount of downtime or minuscule service delivery challenge can cost companies millions in lost revenue, trust, and brand reputation. And to complicate things further, these services must also interoperate between numerous physical and virtual assets.

Consequently, today’s data center firewalls must provide hardware acceleration for virtual extensible local area network (VXLAN) termination and re-origination. They must also offer dynamic support for Layer 4 or Layer 7 security, along with support for physical and virtual environments via a variety of form factors. 

  1. Capacity

Many IT infrastructures struggle when massive datasets are transferred over single connections. Previously limited to rare use cases, these “elephant flows” are now standard—especially for companies in the pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, aeronautics, and financial industries.

Large dataset transfers require encryption and must use high-throughput flows across data centers or between data centers and multiple clouds. Network firewalls being considered for a hyperscale data center environment must be able to perform at these levels every day.

  1. Scalability

The IT requirements of organizations are constantly evolving, and the networks that support firms are forever changing and expanding too. They require scalable cybersecurity solutions that can adapt to the growing demands of the network, such as increasing traffic and new devices, threats, network segments, and regulations. IT security must also deliver processor-intensive functions like inspecting encrypted traffic without compromising performance. Most legacy security systems struggle to perform basic encryption functions, let alone tasks like monitoring streaming video traffic without introducing latency. Scalable network security also means that the security solutions can be deployed and managed efficiently and cost-effectively without compromising network quality and performance.

  1. Efficacy and Innovation

State-of-the-art hardware must be matched with security services that deliver valuable intelligence to keep systems aware of the latest threats. Ideally, these services should be based on a vast network of global sensors and utilize machine learning and AI to sort through billions of signals to detect critical and emerging threats. Unfortunately, these security intelligence services are difficult to evaluate.

We recommend focusing on providers whose solutions have been independently tested and verified to provide consistently high detection rates. Partner with a vendor that has a proven track record of security innovation, leadership in research, and a high number of security patents filed. Pick a vendor who can keep your security safely ahead of today’s relentless cyberattackers.

Data centers will remain critical to your business

Data centers play a crucial role in modern IT architecture, especially in the context of hybrid and cloud computing environments. As organizations adopt these new technologies, their data center strategies must adapt to accommodate the changing landscape.

Learn more about the best way to secure the data center and how FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall combined with FortiGuard AI-Powered Security Services solutions can help protect your environment.