What are Virtualization Security Solutions?
Virtualization Security Solutions exist as both software and hardware appliances for monitoring activity, threat and intrusion detection, and malware prevention / restriction / elimination in virtual or software-defined data centers and server clusters. Virtual environments come with unique vulnerabilities and security risks, and can require tailored solutions to properly secure them.
The proliferation of virtual machines and cloud environments have both exacerbated the need for virtualization security solutions. Virtual machines are easy to spin up, even for simple on-off testing purposes, and can then be easily forgotten. If left unattended or unmanaged, virtual machines can become open to attack and exploitation. The rise of cloud environments, while incredibly valuable to organizations, has also dramatically expanded organizations’ attack surfaces.
Given the range of potential risks in virtual environments, there is a corresponding range of security features to protect them. Many virtualization security solutions will focus on specific workloads, applications, and/or traffic occurring within and across virtual environments. These tools are most efficient when deployed on physical machines or servers running multiple VMs.
Types of Virtualization Security Solutions
While there are a range of distinct types of security tools in this market space, the key functionality across all of these products is to secure virtual environments, particularly virtual machines. The most germane tools are tailor-made virtual machine security solutions, which emphasize scalable security for VMs across enterprises and in data centers and/or cloud-based workloads. Dedicated solutions are likely to be more resource efficient when multiple VMs are hosted on a single server or machine. These efficiencies can save massive amounts of resources at the enterprise scale.
However, there are other types of security tools which can help secure virtual environments. Some of the most common include:
Antivirus, particularly host-based
Server and data center security solutions
Across these different security tools, there are both SaaS and hardware deployments. The SaaS solutions are more efficient for cloud environments, while hardware appliances are more likely to excel at on-premise VM security and unifying hosting and security.
Virtualization Security Solutions Comparison
When comparing different virtualization security solutions, consider these factors:
Environment focus: Some virtualization security solutions are general-use and deliver specific security functions, like antivirus or data backups. Other solutions focus on cloud environments, while some emphasize securing virtual machines. Consider what virtual environments need to be secured to make sure each product fits with those conditions without purchasing unnecessary tacked-on functionalities.
Physical vs. SaaS products: Consider whether the business’s virtual environments are hosted in the cloud by a 3rd party or in a separate data center, or whether they are hosted on-premise within the organization. In the former case, software-based or SaaS solutions may be more effective and scalable. In contrast, hardware solutions can give more control and accessibility for IT administrators for on-premise virtual environments.
Point Solution vs. Security package: Virtualization security is becoming more of a default necessity for businesses, which is leading many security vendors to package it within or alongside other products like firewalls, antivirus, and software-defined networking. If the business already has all of these features and just needs to fill in virtualization-specific risks, then a tailored point solution may be most efficient. If the business is improving or upgrading it’s broader infrastructure, then a suite of solutions may be more cost-efficient and easier to manage long-term.