Who Moved My Virtual Firewall?

Businesses want to virtualize everything in the data center, but is it a good idea to virtualize security appliances and applications? Virtualization lacks some key management capabilities critical to security, and taking down one virtual machine could leave an entire network exposed to threats.

Virtualization can compress data center footprints, decrease power costs and reduce staffing needs. Whether talking about the various products by VMware, Microsoft or Citrix, it is fast becoming the cure-all for IT woes, and that could spell trouble for security managers and solution providers.

Virtualization evangelists are pushing for a complete virtualization of all IT assets. They want file servers, storage arrays, desktops and applications virtualized to lower costs, increase manageability, improve optimization and extend the life of existing equipment. Before long, you'll start seeing security applications and appliances folded into this virtualized schema.

Security experts have long warned about the security threats posed to infrastructures by attacking the hypervisor-the control layer of the virtualized environment. If a hacker can take over the hypervisor, he can control the entire virtualized network. But, as security maven Chris Hoff warns, the real threat may come from poor management.

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