Altor V4 - security in virtualized environments and the cloud

My travel this month just about made it impossible for the good folks at Altor and me to find a workable time for a review of their newest product, Altor V4. After chatting with them, it became clear that it was worth the wait.

My travel this month just about made it impossible for the good folks at Altor and me to find a workable time for a review of their newest product, Altor V4. After chatting with them, it became clear that it was worth the wait.

Security in virtualized environments

If an organization has built a dynamic IT infrastructure based upon a number of virtual servers, security can be quite a challenge. One of the more interesting challenges facing the IT architect is where security should be applied.

One approach is to simply put the entire network behind a firewall.  While this approach offers the benefit of being simple to install and manage, it may not prevent internal security challenges; that is that is may not deal with virtual server to virtual server network traffic within the datacenter.

Another approach is to install security software on each physical and virtual server. This approach is certainly more comprehensive, but also creates a great deal of overhead, license management issues, and, of course, the problem of making sure that polices are set properly for each and every instance of the security software.

Security in cloud environments

When an organization moves workloads into the cloud, the security problems could escalate. Now virtual servers are installed and managed by a third party. The organization is offered assurances that security issues are being managed, but, of course, it is hard to know what really is being done on a moment by moment basis.

If an organization is deploying workloads in an Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS) environment, it is possible to install security software on each and every physical or virtual server. This, of course, brings us back to the very same issues seen in virtual environments.

Altor's approach

Altor has taken the approach of controlling the network that the physical and virtual machines are using. This is a much simpler approach than requiring software be installed on each and every physical and virtual server. They, by the way, are not alone in taking this approach.

What's new in version 4 of Altor's product is that the company is offering its security software encapsulated in a virtual machine. It also helps protect against attacks targeting the hypervisor as well.

Altor V4 is VMware VMsafe Certified and can protect each virtual server and the hypervisor. Their product secures these virtual servers even if they've migrated somewhere else. It also detects new virtual machines as their started up. Furthermore, the software is also tightly integrated with Juniper's physical network security as well.

Snapshot analysis

Altor is one of a number of suppliers who have created technology that inserts itself into the flow of network traffic and implements security policies. Although each supplier is taking a slightly different approach, products from Catbird, Layer 7, ManageSoft, Microsoft, OPnet, VMware and several others could be used to address some of the same issues.

Is Altor offering the best solution for your company? The only way to really know is to contact these suppliers and learn how each would address your security requirements.

Altor's approach is certainly worth an examination.

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