HyTrust 3.0 enforces polices in the virtual data center

Secondary approval is a standard policy in data centers for physical processes to prevent unauthorized or accidental actions that can be damaging. HyTrust asks why isn't this the case in the virtual data center.

Many organizations require two approvals be given for actions that have serious impact on its operations. That means that people in the chain of command understand a given action enough to sign their name to the request.  A single individual isn't allowed to make unilateral decisions in these matters. HyTrust wondered why this approach was used for the operations of the facilities in which IT workloads operate, but not often the case for managing virtual systems. So, when it designed HyTrust Appliance 3.0, it added the capability to enforce this type of workflow.

What HyTrust has to say about this capability

VMware and other virtualization platforms do not provide adequate control, including viable methods of requiring additional level(s) of approval for actions that can result in negative consequences. So-called “privileged users” of an organization’s virtualization platform typically have much greater administrative power than counterparts who manage physical data center infrastructure. They can copy, power off or delete a business-critical VM – accidentally or intentionally – with a few clicks from any location in the world, or any device. If it results in financial hits, where operational downtime costs organizations tens of thousands per hour, compliance violations or an internal security breach, the cost is too high. Recent publicized incidents of privileged users taking down virtual data center operations attest to the large financial hits that enterprises can—and have—taken when adequate virtualization controls were not in place. For the most part, however, such events go unreported.

Snapshot analysis

It's often the case that IT administrators make snap judgements and implement changes in their virtual data center. Virtual machines can be started, stopped, duplicated or deleted based upon that individual's training and judgement. While most actions produce the desired results, a mistake or a malicious action can have terrible consequences.

It is interesting that HyTrust decided to add this capability in version 3 of its appliance server.  Asking managers or other administrators review and approve potentially dangerous actions could prevent the stopping of a critical process or deletion of an important virtual machine. It could also allow IT administration to better control the creation sibling virtual machines and prevent unlicensed and unauthorized copies of licensed software to execute in the data center.

If your organization requires secondary approval for physical actions and would like to extend that set of controls into the virtual world, HyTrust just might be the tool for you.