2016: New Opportunities for Security in SDN, Cloud, Data Centers and Container Technology

Security continues to be top of mind for businesses as we head into 2016. The continued adoption of cloud and virtualization technologies has resulted in new security concerns and new opportunities for security companies to address them:

Security Demands will Drive SDN Adoption

SDN has been picking up steam in enterprises. It enables creation and changing of infrastructure dynamically and agilely for application deployment. However, SDN is also enabling cloud security. One of the major difficulties for security in virtualized environments has been the blurring of security boundaries. This creates a deployment problem for inline devices. SDN created virtual networks and once again defines boundaries where security can take place. SDN also enables service chaining that is necessary to deploy layers of security defenses. The demand for better security than what is available now in a non-SDN environment will be a major driving force for the SDN adoption.

The Cloud Will Define New Security Focus Areas

Companies are demanding more application and data security as they move more business to the cloud. Security companies have been working on new technologies to solve the security problems in the cloud and some of these technologies are close to maturity. In addition to more security capability than what is currently offered, these solutions will also offer better elasticity, on-demand deployment and better fault tolerance than existing solutions. We have seen companies using distributed processing and data-mining technology in their products. There will be new solutions that will provide the means to address the inter-VM security (security of east-west traffic), which has been a new area of focus for customers.

Visibility Tools Will Shine a Light on Data Center Vulnerabilities and Threats

Visibility is an integral part of security today and it is even more important in the data center. Monitoring and management is a big part in data center operations and visibility plays right into it. With monitoring of traffic between VMs, and with technologies already in existence today, such as application identification and user identification, visibility tools can offer rich insight into what each VM is doing, and the interactions between the VMs. Data analytics can be done on data gathered to determine if there are attacks and abnormalities in those interactions.

Container Technology Will Take a Percentage of Virtualization Workload, but Security Questions Remain

Container technology has been one of the hottest technologies over the last year. It offers better scalability, and a low overhead way to run application workloads, and has faster loading times than a VM image. In addition, it also shortens development and deployment cycles with iterative development and fast builds. Containers present a new set of security challenges because the underlying supporting infrastructures are different from virtualization and harder to protect. At this point, early adopters are putting aside security concerns to harness the power of the technology. Longer term, as the technology gains wider acceptance, security issues will gain more visibility and will need to be addressed.


About the Author

Dr. Tim Liu is the CTO of Hillstone Networks where he is in charge of product strategies and direction, technology innovation and advanced research. Before joining Hillstone Networks, Mr, Liu was a senior manager at Juniper Networks and was in charge of designing and developing Netscreen’s VPN product. He also held positions in R&D and management at Intel, Silvan networks, Enfashion and Convex Computer, and led technology teams achieving many technical patents. Mr. Liu graduated from the University of Science and Technology in China and obtained a Ph.D. in physics from University of Texas at Austin.