Holistic Security: Don’t Converge Your Infrastructure Without It

Top Security Concerns for the Modern Network

Tim Allen

As organizations manage data from a growing variety of sources, many are shifting to a converged infrastructure for their data centers. A converged infrastructure combines computing, storage, networking, and virtualization into an integrated system provided by a single vendor, giving a company access to all of its resources from one centrally-managed location. It provides transparency, makes management easier and cheaper, and ends IT sprawl.

Gartner predicts that by 2019 hyper converged infrastructure models, which include software-defined storage and commodity hardware, will amount to a $5 billion market used by 24 percent of the integrated systems sector. It is likely to grow even more as additional devices are connected. By 2017 the number of mobile phones will reach 4.7 billion, and by 2020, there will be over 21 billion connected IoT devices.

Many companies are barreling into converged networks without thinking about security implications. That needs to change.

Traditional network security was focused on protecting the perimeter with a big firewall. Today, however, with increasingly sophisticated hackers and more potential entry points than ever, you need to refocus efforts to secure the data center and defend against threats at and above the network level. It’s essential to make sure that all information flowing in from ports, switches, routers, and other legacy gear is equally well-protected. The stakes are much higher – with a single root compromise, a hacker can access the databases, storage, networking, and APIs for all the systems you use.

If you’re using products from multiple vendors, a security solution won’t happen automatically. A converged environment requires a holistic, cross-disciplinary approach that assesses products from multiple vendors and creates a unified security stack, offering seamless protection and uniform policy implementation.

A holistic solution spots suspicious network activity, identifies the problem user and device, and automatically enforces a security policy to shut down unauthorized transmissions.

A policy-based approach, which attaches security to applications, works best with converged systems. Policies can allow defined workloads, servers, or users to communicate with one another, regardless of which network segment they reside in. Security follows a workload through its lifecycle, removing the security role when the virtual server is decommissioned.

A converged infrastructure gives companies a faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective way to deploy servers, storage, and networks. But unless they implement a holistic security system to cover it, it’s a stick of dynamite just waiting for a hacker to light.