Category Archive: IT Security

Sep 13

Survey: What questions does the security guy ask all the time?

You’re the virtualization admin. Your security guy comes up to you, looking for information. You really don’t want to give him an account on vCenter, do you? (according to a group discussion session I did at VMworld, the answer was clearly “No” with some being a little more colorful by using the term “NFW”!)

But lets face it, the IT Security folks do have a job to do and they really could use information on a regular basis to do their job. Let’s see if we help them by helping you, shall we?

Give us questions, we’ll give you answers

I’m looking for examples of the types of questions IT Security needs regular answers to. Alan Renouf and I are mulling some ways to help both of you out. No details yet but having Alan involved should give you a hint! :) Give us the questions, let us surprise you.

I’ll start this off with some examples:

Security Guy: “I need to see….

  • all the virtual machines that have a CD drive attached
  • what virtual machines are on what network/switch/portgroup
  • what virtual machines are on what storage device
  • what roles are assigned to what users
  • ESXi server SSL certificate details like when they expire
  • What vSwitches are in promiscuous mode
  • any vDS port mirroring details
  • the ESXi shell interactive timeout values
  • what the syslog IP address is set to on the ESXi servers

Based on that, start posting the questions! We’ll try to get as many included in this little project we are working on. We hope you like it!


Sep 27

Would you pay for the TruCoat?

“I’m saying, that TruCoat, you don’t get it you get oxidation problems it’ll cost you a heck of a lot more than $500…”

For those of you playing along, you probably remember this line from the movie “Fargo”. William H. Macy, playing car salesman Jerry Lundgaard, is arguing with a couple about tacking on an unwanted option called “TruCoat” for $500. It’s one of those things that car dealers use to increase their margins. Watch the video here but be warned, there’s a part at the end that’s NSFW.

Jerry Lundgaard selling the TruCoat

So what’s all this got to do with virtualization and cloud security?

Well, in my talking with customers and cloud service providers, the topic of tiered offerings always comes up. You know, the “Gold, Silver & Bronze”. I’ve asked Cloud Service Providers about including security in those tiers and have been met with “Well, maybe, but it would have to re-coup the investment.” (It IS all about the Benjamin’s, isn’t it?)

That got me thinking about TruCoat. A product that Jerry Lundgaard is selling not because it adds value but because it’s got a GREAT profit margin. Not unlike doing the least amount of “security” (Checkbox Security) and charging the most for it. Not really bringing value but charging like you do. I’m not accusing anyone of doing that, but I wonder if maybe some less than reputable vendors (Joey’s Transmission and Cloud?) would head in that direction?

You see, this goes back to security being bolted on .vs. built in. If, in the Gold tier, you add in network packet monitoring and two-factor authentication, you as the cloud service provider are making a significant investment. You need to get that investment back and start to make a profit. How do you explain the TRUE value of the service you offer? Or, like Joey, you just upsell a little anti-virus and firewalling that you’d do anyways because, at scale, it’s not a big hit on the bottom line? Just like the TruCoat.

Clarification: AV and Firewalls are absolutely part of a good defense in depth story. But they are now, especially with the capabilities of vShield, a “commodity” item that is easy to set up and doesn’t impact the bottom line like other security products would.

Buying Value

Customers will pay money for something of value. I haven’t met many people who buy junk intentionally after all! That said, trying to meld security and value together in a cloud environment will be an interesting journey. Today I think it’s a bit of a chicken and egg. Many customer SAY they want secure clouds but how many are willing to pay for it? Cloud Service providers would like to offer security but, let’s face it, it’s not cheap and, as I said, how many are willing to pay for it?

What are your thoughts? Will customers start to demand things like GRC, packet inspection, two-factor authentication? Or will firewalls and anti-virus “check the box” for them?

For some, the response will be “Ya! You betcha!”

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