2014 Industry Innovators: Access Control
2014 Industry Innovators: Access Control

The year's Innovators in this group focus on security management in a cloud or virtual environment. Given that the cloud is a business construct rather than a technical one it is necessary to manage both the business and technical aspects of cloud computing. That means that security management must address the challenges of the virtual environment while similarly addressing the issues of shared systems, such as public clouds. Legal, contractual and business restrictions limit the organization's ability to control its security destiny in a cloud environment, so creativity is required to get the security job done.

Our Innovators do, in fact, get the job done – but in somewhat different ways. In one case the goal is managing the software-defined data center – the virtualized world – as if it was a legacy physical plant. This allows traditional approaches to data center management to translate to the virtual without losing the new levels of control demanded by a hypervisor-mediated operating environment. It does this by virtualizing the suite of management tools necessary to control security on the system and allow those tools to act across the software-defined enterprise.

The other Innovator focuses its efforts in the cloud where its virtual appliances manage security by forming what amounts to an encapsualization separate from the external environment. It does this using a specialized virtual appliance that interacts cleanly with the organization's virtual deployment without interfering with the underlying virtualization.

Because I operate a virtual environment at the university where I am CISO, we always are intrigued by innovations in this area. Both of these Innovators have been on our radar for a while and we think that they have the recipe for cloud and virtual security down just right. Ease of use and deployment, seamless integration with the underlying virtual system, and effective security are the hallmarks of this type of product. Both of our Innovators have that nailed.

This category is another one where we have seen some convergence and we expect a significant collection of Innovators here next year. For now, however, we think these two are at the top of the heap.