VMware and Intel Security (formerly McAfee) are integrating their respective technologies to secure network traffic inside the data centre itself rather than at the perimeter, with a view to providing a greater level of protection for applications and data.
Available immediately, the new solution combines VMware's NSX network virtualisation technology and Intel Security's McAfee Network Security Platform (NSP) to offer intrusion prevention services (IPS) on so-called east-west data between servers, rather than merely monitoring traffic at the network gateway.
This integration allows IPS to be distributed across all the servers in a VMware vSphere environment, isolating any malware that breaks though the network perimeter and allowing more processing power to be brought to bear on security than handling it at the network edge alone.
NSX was introduced by VMware late in 2013 and adds a virtual switch to the hypervisor in each physical server to handle switching and routing of all data packets.
Integrating with NSX gives the McAfee NSP oversight of all network traffic, according to Martin Casado, general manager of VMware's Networking and Security business unit.
"McAfee has an intrusion detection service [ISD]/IPS solution, but today it's very difficult to get access to all the traffic," he told V3.
"You clearly want to catch attacks moving laterally in the data centre, so they've integrated with us at the data plane level and the management level, so you can have these IDS and IPS instances throughout the data centre and access any traffic you wish."
In such a scenario, the VMware NSX Manager is used to dynamically and automatically provision McAfee NSP instances, while administrators can use VMware's vRealize Automation to define and apply policies across the whole network.
"With the Intel Security and VMware integration, McAfee NSP provides integration within VMware NSX to allow customers to apply advanced security capabilities for the protection of east-west traffic in the data centre, which makes up the majority of traffic in these environments," said Raja Patel, general manager for the Network Security Business unit at Intel Security.
Casado, who co-founded Nicira, the firm that VMware acquired to gain the technology behind NSX, sees this integration as just the start of a better approach to network security.
"Right now, we're adding value by enabling security services to see every packet of data, but we can actually evolve this even further," he explained.
"Because we're running those services on the host server, we actually have proximity to the applications and the data, so we can use that to see what processes are running, and what files are being accessed, and we can automatically quarantine a node if we spot an attacker on the system until it gets remediated."
VMware and Intel already have customers using the joint solution. One is US healthcare cloud service provider ClearData, which is using the combination of NSX and McAfee NSP to meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulatory compliance by deploying IPS services to protect traffic across the data centre.
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