Illumio Improves Security With New Visualization and Policy Features

The micro-segmentation security technology vendor updates its platform with new capabilities to understand and create security policies.


Security firm Illumio is updating its Adaptive Security Platform with new capabilities that aim to help organizations visualize connections within an enterprise and create security policies that reduce risk.

When Illumio first emerged from stealth in October 2014, one of the core capabilities of the company's platform was a technology called Illumination. The promise of Illumination was that it could "illuminate" and reveal connections with an enterprise network in an effort to help organizations improve security.

Illumio has continued to expand both its technology and it business, raising $125 million in a Series D round of funding on June 7.

With the latest Illumio update, the company is adding a new Explorer feature that provides additional visibility for organizations. With Explorer, an organization can now query the system to better understand network traffic and application flows across an enterprise.

"We had the concept before of having a map of applications and dependencies," PJ Kirner, co-founder and CTO of Illumio, told eWEEK. "But I don't think it was as clear as it is now how valuable having that map really is."

Kirner added that having network visibility with graphics and diagrams of connectivity is interesting, but the real value is in having an accurate map of how things work together. The concept of network visibility is one that is well-understood in the market, with multiple open-source projects including Cacti and network weathermap that are widely deployed. Kirner said Illumio makes use of various open-source technologies throughout its platform, and putting all the pieces together is part of the commercial offering.

"Policy Generator and Explorer are two new and unique ways of understanding and visualizing data," he said.

The new policy generator feature in the Illumio platform enables organizations to rapidly create new network segmentation policies to improve security and reduce risk. In previous releases of Illumio, an organization had to figure out a policy strategy on its own, according to Kirner. He added there was a visual rule writing capability, but it required a certain amount of expertise.

"We observed that in some of our initial deployments, people knew what they wanted to do, but as we have expanded we needed to help organizations distribute the task of policy writing," Kirner said.

Kirner said the new policy generator helps both with the distribution of policy creation as well as deciding on what strategy should be used. The new policy generator also aims to make security policies more understandable by humans. The Illumio policy engine uses JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and a label-based system to tag and identify policy.

A key goal for the new policy generator is to also help abstract and consolidate disparate sets of policies into a single set of rules. Illumio had a customer with 15,000 different firewall policy rules, which they were able to reduce down to under 40 Illumio policy statements, Kirner said.

"The massive reduction in the number of individual policies with Illumio makes policy generation more consumable by human beings," he said.

Looking forward, Kirner said Illumio will continue to invest in additional capabilities that improve visualization of policies and networks. He also expects that Illumio will develop other ways of helping organizations secure and understand their environments.

"We're collecting a huge amount of information, and being able to leverage that in different ways is something we're looking at," Kirner said. "We're sitting on a pile of data, and being able to present that to customers and let them use it for different use cases presents a lot of opportunity."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.