Next-Generation Data Centers Require Next-Generation Security

As communications shift to the cloud, it's creating new types of requirements that older security models just cannot meet. Next-generation security can help. Bill Kleyman looks at some of these new types of security products.

Data Center Knowledge

October 17, 2013

4 Min Read
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We live in a world full of technological buzz terms – cloud computing, software-defined technologies, and now, next-generation security. The challenge with understanding new types of technologies is that the marketing machine usually takes charge before there has been any serious explanation.

The term “next-generation” security was born as a direct result of new types of technologies requiring greater levels of security flexibility. What does that mean? Communications happening over the cloud, or over a bring-your-own device, or even through a virtual portal all have new types of requirements that older security platforms just could not meet.  Furthermore, at the core of all of these new technologies sits the data center. With so much more reliance around the modern data center infrastructure and everything that it hosts, security platforms had to make that next-level jump.

Next-generation security technologies are much more than your standard firewall. These are intelligent devices which are application, cloud and user aware. These are special services, new policies and complete virtual appliances logically located throughout an environment.

So, what are these new types of security products? Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Security Beyond the Physical: We’ve come far beyond the standard physical firewall. Now, security appliances are being deployed at various nodes within a network – internal, external, at a cloud site, or in a DMZ. Some of these appliances can be physical, while others are completely virtual. The flexibility of virtual security appliances means more control over networks, traffic flow and even policy creation. Furthermore, these appliances can be logically located inside of a network running special policies or at the edge protecting cloud-facing applications. New physical content delivery appliances allow you even virtualize some security services directly on top of the platform. For example, the NetScaler SDX allows for a virtual WebSense service to run directly on to. This allows for things like DLP and even greater application awareness.

  • New Types of Policy Engines. The world of cloud computing requires new types of security engines. Layer 4-7 DDoS protection (volumetric and application-layer), intrusion prevention/detection services (IPS/IDS), and data-loss prevention (DLP) are just a few examples of some advanced protection features. These new engines must scan multiple points within and outside of a network. Furthermore, organizations with heavy regularity compliance measures have to be even more careful with their data. Some healthcare organizations use DLP technologies which scan data leaving and coming in. From there, they scan for patterns, ‘xxx-xx-xxx’ for example, to flag, stop and report malicious data leakages. Next-generation security platforms are designed to help stop data loss by integrating into various technologies – including software-defined networks. These policy engines allow for granular data-flow control as core information flows between the end-user, your data center, and the cloud.

  • Cloud-Ready Endpoint Control. As new devices try to connect into a corporate network, there has to be some means of control. Now, border security devices are being deployed with advanced interrogation engines capable of granularly scanning all inbound devices. Organizations can place certain policy metrics and present only certain content if those policies aren’t met. Checking for rooted devices, the right service pack, or even the latest A/V can all be set as interrogation points. Further control can be derived from the use of mobile/enterprise device management (MDM/EDM) solutions. Having the capability to remotely locate or wipe a stolen or lost device can be very handy.  Remember, trends around IT consumerization and mobility are only going to continue growing. This means more users will be utilizing the device that helps them be most productive. It’ll be up to your data center’s next-generation security model to help delivery those resources and keep them secure.

  • Software-Defined Security. Now that security devices are being distributed to multiple points, new types communications methods are being established to create a faster and more secure cloud environment. Closely in conjunction with software-defined networks (SDN) creating site-to-site secure connections is now a must. Many organizations are utilizing a public or hybrid cloud platform which may require a virtual security appliance to be deployed at the provider site. From there a physical or virtual appliance at the corporate site can be used to create a secure, monitored, tunnel into the cloud. Remember, next-generation security platforms are not only cloud and application aware, they provide layer 4-7 networking services and data protection. The idea is to create app-awareness, increase control and create flexibility around your environment to help facilitate an ever-evolving business model.

There are going to be lots of different definitions out there for next-generation security. It’s important to understand, however, the core meaning of the technology. Security products have simply evolved beyond the standard firewall platform into something that is capable of supporting numerous different types of services. In many cases these services all work together to bring forward a singular platform – cloud computing, for example. Next-generation technologies will always heavily revolve around security, agility, and the ability to evolve (quickly) to the needs of a growing business. As more distributed technologies take form in the industry, there will be a greater need for dynamic –cloud-aware – security solutions.

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