Virtualization and cloud security: Innovators 2015

This is an emerging category. For some time – if we can look relativistically – there was a notion that we could secure the cloud with the traditional protections we have used for years in the hardware-defined data center. That turned out to be only half correct. We still need the functionality of traditional protections – at least in part – but the manner of deployment is quite different.

This category looks at both virtualization and cloud security. At first blush these seem like the same thing. But it's a bit more complicated than that. First, the cloud is not a technology. Rather, it is a business construct. That means that all of the deployed technology is at the mercy of contracts, not products. These contracts determine what you can and can't do.

The cloud is not a technology. Rather, it is a business construct.

We just heard of a customer of Microsoft's email hosting service that was generating spam. Since it was important for the customer to pinpoint the source of the spam on its email network, the customer called on Microsoft to give a bit of assistance. The answer was “Absolutely not.” Microsoft “for security reasons” does not allow the customer direct access to its own email. So the email cloud hosting service, while technically capable of helping, refused because the policy prohibited what the customer wanted.

This section's Innovators deal with exactly that kind of challenge: maintaining control and security over your own assets even though they may sit on a public cloud with draconian policies. The additional issue is the emergence of hybrid cloud systems as hugely popular architectures. Hybrid clouds have their own challenges and our Innovators can address them as well.

So the cloud may be little more, technically, than a virtual environment on someone else's computers, but you still need to be able to protect your digital assets, no matter what type of virtual environment they sit in. That can mean that you are protecting data or applications. The applications may be hybrid – functioning in multiple environments as in a hybrid cloud where the data is one place and the app is in another, or, they may be situated in a coherent, contiguous environment, such as a public or private cloud, or in a software-defined data center.

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