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Altor Networks security for virtual environments

Altor Network's Amir Ben-Efraim, CEO, spoke to me recently about Altor VF. The company claims it is the first "purpose built" firewall for virtualized environments.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

Altor Network's Amir Ben-Efraim, CEO, spoke to me recently about Altor VF. The company claims it is the first "purpose built" firewall for virtualized environments. Like Catbird (see Security of virtual environments from the Catbird Seat), Altor sees that controlling the network traffic is a good way to offer a more secure environment. The key difference, according to Amir, is that Altor is starting from a powerful, but lightweight, firewall rather than a heavier security system.

Here's what Althor Network says about Altor VF

The Altor VF is a software security appliance that runs in a virtualized environment and enforces security policy on a per virtual machine (VM) basis. Unlike existing firewalls designed for physical networks, the Altor VF virtual firewall can secure Live Migration – a technology designed to trigger automatic movement of VMs across physical servers, but capable of inadvertently moving an application to a less trusted network. The Altor VF was purpose-built for the virtual environment – enabling tighter security policy and greater ease-of-use than existing virtual firewalls adapted from their physical firewall counterparts.

The Altor VF extends the functionality of traditional firewalls. Traditional firewalls not only provide security to physical networks, they also provide visibility to the traffic running through them and export some of that data to 3rd party products to aggregate and correlate data across the network.  However, traditional firewalls cannot see into the virtual environment. The Altor VF extends visibility into the virtual environment – providing NetFlow statistics, Sys Log, and other network statistics on a per application basis and exporting that data to 3rd party products such as those from ArcSight and Mazu Networks (Please see separate releases for details). Similarly, in existing physical networks, some companies also employ an Intrusion Detection & Prevention System (IDS/IPS) to further secure their physical networks. Through its partnership with Juniper Networks, the Altor VF enables Juniper IDP appliances to extend their protection into the virtual environment.

Snapshot analysis

Altor Networks asserts that is some security solutions inhibit disaster recovery solutions that require moving virtual servers from one host system to another. I haven't been able to verify their claim, but do believe that security is an important component of a complete, balanced virtualization strategy along with access, application, processing, network and storage virtualization.

Although a relative newcomer, Altor's founders and staff have a long track record of success in other places. I expect that their work is worthy of evaluation once again.

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