Cisco has rolled out a new set of security products to better protect data centers against the threats they face as they move toward more consolidated and virtualized environments. The solutions also let businesses leverage new cloud-based models and secure mobile devices.
The solutions include: the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance line; virtualized ASA for multi-tenant environments; a data-center-grade intrusion prevention system; and new improvements to the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client to meet the requirements of a more mobile and productive workforce.
"For enterprises to confidently seize the business benefits offered by data center virtualization and the cloud, security must be seen as the art of the possible, not as a hindrance," said Christopher Young, senior vice president and general manager of Security and Government Group at Cisco. He notes that the solutions let administrators deliver IT as a service with security without compromising network performance.
Forcing Profound Shifts
As Cisco sees it, the virtualization and cloud mega trend is forcing profound shifts within data centers -- and those shifts affect everything from IT services to business models to architectures. If addressed properly, Cisco said, these trends offer business benefits such as reduced capital investments, new revenue growth and the greater efficiency, agility and scalability demanded by globalization.
With its new security solutions, Cisco is working from the principle that security has to be integrated across the network to ensure protection of unified data centers. Cisco believes network policies should be unified across physical and virtual worlds, intra-virtual machine communication should be secured, and access to applications by wired and mobile clients must be protected.
"Security is measured by levels of trust. It's about global authority and access. There has been a true shift in the realm of security," said Nick Schmidt, senior manager, Information Technology at CDW. "Cisco's security solutions play a key role in protecting our company, and enables us to use a mix of public and private cloud approaches, depending on the need."
A Must-Do Move
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said this is the right move for Cisco. Despite the move toward virtual servers, virtual machine mobility and virtualizing a network, security has historically been deployed as an overlay technology.
"Cisco's vision of the data center is predicated on the concept of full automation of IT operations and automatic movement of virtual resources," Kerravala told us. "Security can no longer be an overlay. It has to be an integrated component of your infrastructure and it has to be as agile and as mobile as some of those other virtual resources."
Not only does Kerravala believe enterprise will embrace the new solutions, he thinks the shift is one enterprises have to make. It's not practical for enterprises to secure a virtual data center using legacy security models, which are meant more for a static world.
"You can't have traditional legacy solutions securing virtual stuff. It doesn't scale and it doesn't work," Kerravala said. "It would be very expensive to do it because you'd have to wind up replicating everything you do everywhere."