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Securing the software-defined data centre

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The term “digital transformation” is on every CIO’s lips today, and a large part of this transformation, is the move to a software-defined data centre (SDDC). 

“The SDDC is the IT infrastructure of tomorrow,” says Lutz Blaeser, MD of Intact Software Distribution. “For really innovative businesses, it’s already here, bringing compelling benefits such as lower costs, and increased productivity and agility, as it has been designed to offer faster speeds and flexibility by enabling IT services to be provisioned more quickly to users.”

With the SDDC, the infrastructure in its entirety is virtualised and delivered as a service, he explains. Even the management is totally automated, and configurations of the hardware are also maintained by intelligent systems, as opposed to traditional data centres, in which infrastructure is managed through devices and hardware.

“There is no doubt the world is becoming a software-defined one,” he says. “However, as businesses across every industry are looking to transform their data centres through software-defined technology, they need to relook at how they are securing this software-defined world, as traditional security measures won’t necessarily do the job. Security is an essential enabler of this change. It needs to be embedded in the very fabric of the SDDC.”

According to Gartner, one possibility is for security to also become software-defined. “The main aim is to ensure that correct controls and measures stay in place, irrespective of whether the application resides on or off-premise. “Traditional information security infrastructure is too fixed to support the fast changing and rapidly evolving threat landscape we see today. Businesses need to adapt their security postures to include and support the more dynamic and agile SDDCs we see today,” Blaeser explains.

He says the first step is to ensure security is built into the overall SDDC architecture. “Although for most businesses, the shift to a SDDC will be a process that will happen over time, for others, this will happen quickly as they already have the core elements in place. An example of this would be server virtualisation, which most enterprises are already embracing, and which will smooth the journey to SDDC. However, this can only happen if business and IT experts are confident that the underlying security of their data centres and hybrid cloud environments offers the protection that is needed to support their most sensitive data and business-critical applications.”

He says that when moving towards a SDDC, businesses need to implement a software-defined network, SDN, which has to be integrated with security services and able to communicate with the network controller. “This is why organisations must have next-generation security services that are able to do this, and work with a SDN.

“Businesses should also implement a security architecture that takes advantage of both the virtualisation and orchestration features of the SDDC to simplify and automate the provisioning of security policies and protections, as well as any compliance requirements,” he explains.

“At the end of the day, security needs to evolve in order to support increasingly dynamic and adaptive SDDCs. In the long term, what will drive adaptive security infrastructure will be models that are ‘software-defined’, that will have the ability to mitigate and defend against the continually evolving and highly targeted threats we are seeing today.”

There are solutions currently available that help businesses boost their security posture in SDDC environments. “Bitdefender’s GravityZone solution has achieved virtualisation leader VMware’s highest level of endorsement and is supported on VMware NSX, the company’s virtual networking and security platform for production environments, which enables organisations that use NSX to bolster security by enabling agentless scanning for guest virtual machines,” Blaeser concludes.