Securing Your Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Posted on Monday, January 07, 2019
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By Alexander Lewis
Cyber Security Assessor

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Security & is a Softcat blog series highlighting how security and other areas of IT work together to maximise an organisation’s infrastructure investment. Stopping by all Softcat’s solutions teams, this series offers advice that will enable you to develop a more cohesive infrastructure leading to a more complete security strategy.

The evolution of datacentre infrastructure is always an interesting area, particularly when the focus is on simplicity, scalability, and efficiency. We have seen a proliferation of software-defined technologies, none more so than those underpinning Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI). This is part of our hybrid infrastructure customer priorities, you can find more information, here.

Softcat's security blog series

What is hyper-converged infrastructure?

Put simply, HCI is virtualising the traditional elements of a storage area network, (compute, storage, relevant networking) into a single appliance, with one pane of glass (the software-defined bit).

We have seen this modern architecture resolve many of the legacy frustrations of datacentre management, particularly as this demand is growing due to time limitations. However, what we haven't considered is how this impacts application security.

What about securing it?

As we approach this new software-defined age, we're seeing businesses embrace this principle across the IT industry. The latest developments in AI and technology focus on software development, MPLS is being beaten by software-defined wider area networks, and even some traditional networking vendors are moving away from being hardware-focused to becoming new age, software-focused companies. It makes sense then, that traditional network security (port-based filtering, IP address subnetting, etc.) which primarily focuses on physical network attributes, is no longer sufficient. In a software-defined solution like HCI, the best security strategy is to embrace the application layer.

By shifting the focus from port and protocol, to application and user, we get a much more complete understanding of how different elements of the network are engaging with each other, and therefore how to secure and optimise this. By leveraging application delivery controllers, along with HCI, we can build a security policy that focuses on protecting the tools and data that users are dealing with. At the same time this will reduce security errors from port-based mismatches and misconfigurations.

So what?

Having a scalable, easy to manage, and cheaper network SAN speaks volumes to our customers who find datacentres to be a black hole of resource and cost. When you look past the infrastructure itself, to things like backup, off-site replication and disaster recovery, these can get costly too. If you’d like any advice around this our expert Datacentre & Cloud specialists can help understand how your business stores, manages, and replicates your data and advise the best solution for you within your commercial expectations.

But for some, the new software-defined world is perplexing, and talking about application-centric security policies seems miles away from older, more traditional toolsets. That is where your friendly neighbourhood Networking and Security Specialist can work with your business to assess and understand how to bring your security strategy into the software age. Ultimately, investing in the fast and agile latest datacentre technologies is a difficult investment to make, if old security policies and strategies hobble its scalability and flexibility.

Contact Us

If reading this has piqued your interest, and you’d like to understand more about modernising and maximising your datacentre environment, or how application-centric security controls can optimise your hyperconverged infrastructure, get in touch with your Softcat Account Manager. If you don’t have a Softcat Account Manager, please get in touch via the button below.


About the author: Alexander Lewis is a leading Networking & Security Specialist at Softcat and has been working with Softcat’s customers for over two years. Alex’s previous work has seen him work in various IT-focused roles, but his passion for technology started young when he built his first PC at just 6 Years old. When not working with customers, Alex guides Softcat customers on security and networking strategy, regularly contributing to our blogs, webinars and training exercises.

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