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Barrier to virtualisation needs education breakthrough

Clavister : 23 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
Clavister reports on the low adoption of virtualisation in the SME sector and comments on the need for education to demonstrate the advantages
With the number of purely physical machines now being eclipsed by sales of virtual machines, the adoption of Virtualisation technology is without doubt on the increase. The exception to this trend appears to be Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as there is a perception that complexity of the technology and cost are a barrier to uptake.

Many SMEs are still reluctant to adopt the technology due to perceived complexity of management, cost and concerns about integrating it with existing infrastructures. IP-based security and unified threat management (UTM) specialist, Clavister urges SMEs not to be put off adopting Virtualisation as the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Andreas Ã…sander, VP product management at Clavister advises: "Before adoption organisations should ensure they educate themselves on how to exploit the technology and understand how to avoid some of the pitfalls.

"Smaller organisations have begun to accept that Virtualisation is not the sole domain of large enterprises with large budgets. The decision on whether to virtualise or not depends on the complexity of your IT infrastructure so before making this decision, it is important to conduct a broad review of your current IT environment with particular emphasis on server utilisation."

According to Ã…sander companies should ensure they also consider and plan for the security element of virtualising their IT environment: "We recently highlighted the fact that many organisations who have already implemented server Virtualisation may have left their IT networks open to attack because they wrongly believed that security was built-in.

"In the rush to take advantage of the numerous benefits of Virtualisation many organisations overlook how it might affect their security policies. Often these deployment projects are headed up by the server manager and the security manager is often brought into the project very late, if at all.

"When companies implement virtualisation, it is very dangerous to assume that everything is automatically secure when the reality is that they may be facing new security threats."

In order to help those organisations who are considering adopting virtualisation, Clavister has developed a five-point checklist:

* Redefine the security policy to include the Virtualisation aspect
* Use virtual security gateways which run inside the virtual infrastructure
* Protect the virtual administration centre and only allow access to this from a separate network
* Limit the number of administrators having access to the Virtualisation administration tools to a minimum
* Evaluate and test the security level on a regular basis. Replicating the production environment in a test environment is easy with Virtualisation and this should be utilised
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