As Virtual Networks Emerge, Policy and Data Move into the Spotlight

Traditionally, we’ve thought of policy from a network and security operations perspective. While, our firewalls rely on policy for accessibility and security, the operation of the business can at times prioritize access over security. While it shouldn’t be, there are those moments when we set a policy more to enable connectivity and operation than security. We figure once we get the application running properly, we’ll have the time to “fix it later.” And then we might not… So there’s policy, but it’s not quite as effective as it should be and can operate in the periphery. I’m not casting any aspersions on our hard working security teams, there is just so much to do and so few to do it…

Software defined networking (SDN) in general, VMware NSX specifically, lets you treat your physical network as a pool of transport capacity, with network and security services attached to workloads using a policy-driven approach. This automates networking operations and eliminates bottlenecks associated with hardware-based networks. I liked VMware’s description so I borrowed some of their messaging here… This new software-defined datacenter (SDDC) paradigm introduces significant business benefits, but also new security and operational challenges.

Getting from your current fixed and private infrastructure to one that’s comprehensively virtualized is a process, not an event. As with any process improvement journey there are many unknowns, which can have negative implications on security risk and operational efficiency. Any solution must deal with the reality that organizations will migrate infrastructure, apps and services to this virtual paradigm.

So in the virtual networking world, policy is central to the operation of network and security for the applications/services, so it can’t be a second priority. Furthermore, timely visibility into accessibility and security operations is vital to meet the business needs. The more real time and service impacting a function is, the more real time the visibility must be to verify business continuity and security and potentially take corrective action. When our teams need visibility into a broad set of functions – networks, systems, applications, cloud services, SDN and SDDC – they turn to the data from these systems.

With virtualized resources and rapid deployment, real-time visibility and action is required. We believe organizations require visibility into policy and data spanning a mix of on-premise networks and systems, cloud platforms, SDDC and SDN. The threat landscape continues to grow and constant security vigilance at the cloud, storage, desktop, server and network layer is more critical than ever. Regardless of where those resources reside. A holistic, centralized view of security policy and data across the entire infrastructure, public and private, is no longer a nice-to-have or future consideration; it’s a requirement.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore the policy management and data analysis topics in more detail and share why we believe FireMon’s unique combination of rich policy management, visibility and data analysis across public and private networks is required for organizations taking the virtualization journey.

FireMon is exhibiting at VMworld 2017 at Fira Barcelona Gran Via September 11-14. Come see us in Booth #E604.