Industry Innovators: Hall of Fame
Industry Innovators: Hall of Fame

Our last product section really is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The cloud and its core-enabling virtualization architecture needs a special kind of security. This section represents an interesting dichotomy itself. Every time we see a superior product or very creative organization in this space, it gets swallowed up by another company. Virtualization has become so critical to the evolution of the enterprise that anything that addresses it is important and desirable. That is especially true of security products.

Virtual systems are notoriously difficult to secure at the virtual machine (VM) level. The most successful efforts to do this have come out of virtual interpretations of traditional physical network security. Still, there are special challenges that virtual systems present. For example, there is a lot of data that is, really, infrastructure data passing over the virtual enterprise. That data must be protected, just like the traditional data we see in a physical enterprise.

If we take our virtualization to the cloud – and virtualization is the cloud's enabler – we run into some ugly challenges, some technical and some not. The technical challenges relate to the shared nature of the cloud. How do we protect our virtual environment, especially if we do not own or administer it?

On the not-so-technical side, if we do not own the environment how do we build contracts that allow us to control our own security? Most public cloud providers will not allow users to take certain kinds of security measures. So we're really back to protecting the data because we cannot do much for the infrastructure.

Our products in the cloud/virtualization section this year take these challenges head-on. Addressing the issue of virtualization and the security surrounding it is the province of one of our Innovators. The cloud is the jurisdiction of the other. We predict that these two companies won't be around in their current forms for long. They are likely to attract bigger fish and well they should. They are the proverbial right thing in the right place at the right time.

If you are in the market for cloud or virtualization action – and most of us are in one way or another – give these two a very close look. They have serious solutions for serious challenges.