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News

Server virtualisation requires fresh approach to data security.

Nemertes Research : 13 February, 2008  (Technical Article)
Nemertes Research urges users considering virtualisation of servers to carry out a detailed risk analysis and adapt their protection strategies accordingly.
Rapid adoption of server Virtualisation is forcing companies to think about the security implications.

Most IT departments currently secure physical and virtual servers the same way. Unfortunately, consolidating servers into a pool of virtual machines interconnected by virtual networks invalidates many of the assumptions that underlie current data centre security techniques. While the focus has been on the security of the hypervisor, the real risks may lie elsewhere.

"As server Virtualisation has gained acceptance in corporate data centres, security has gone from an afterthought to a serious concern," says Andreas Antonopoulos, senior vice president of Nemertes Research. Much of the focus has been on the technologies of Virtualisation rather than the operational, organisation and economic benefits the technologies offer companies. For server Virtualisation to deliver its benefits as securely as possible, companies need to conduct a more rigorous analysis of the risks associated with it. "Part of the uncertainly arises because most companies do not have a good understanding of the real risks surrounding virtualisation, "says Antonopoulos.

Companies need to understand that their risk profile changes as their use of Virtualisation changes. There are risks inherent in each stage of deployment and its corresponding architectures and operational processes. In fact, as companies continue their rapid adoption of virtualisation, it is the new operational models that introduce unique challenges and risks. "This is important, said Antonopoulos, because it's how you direct your time, money and attention to the places where it will reduce the risk more successfully." One key fact is that excessive focus on the basic mechanism of Virtualisation - the hypervisor - distracts from the more important sources of enterprise risk: the flattening of data centre network topologies and the creation of server pool monocultures.

Further detail and analysis on this topic is available in Nemertes' latest issue paper, "Virtualization Risk Analysis."
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