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At VMworld this week in Las Vegas, Cisco will be providing a preview of a virtual implementation of our ASA security appliance. A “preview” implies that we aren’t ready to announce ultimate pricing or availability, but we are demonstrating a strategic direction for the ASA product line. Earlier, I alluded to important new advances in our virtual security story upcoming at VMworld in the comments section of a recent blog post I wrote responding to HP criticisms of our Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) product.

With security concerns being the most frequently cited obstacle to large scale virtualization projects and adopting cloud computing models, Cisco will be greatly enhancing its industry-leading virtual security infrastructure with this product. The new virtual ASA introduces a wide range of security services that have not been available from Cisco before in a virtual form factor. The virtual ASA will enable more sophisticated security policies that better align with business and compliance needs in the virtual data center.

Some of the key aspects of this new virtual ASA product:

Rather than replacing our VSG virtual firewall, the virtual ASA will be a strong complement for the current VSG capabilities. The virtual ASA includes security functionality most often deployed at the edge of an organization and the edge of the data center. As such, it is better suited for North-South traffic into the data center and virtual applications. VSG, with its greater visibility to VM-specific and application attributes, enforces security policies between applications and virtual machines, and is more East-West traffic oriented.

Across the whole ASA product line, customers will be able to get consistent functionality, management and policy enforcement across all form factors (stand-alone appliance, modular blade, and now virtual instances). And with Nexus 1000V integration, Virtual ASA customers will also get consistency in management, provisioning and service routing with Cisco’s other virtual services including VSG and vWAAS. At a minimum, this should alleviate all objections that we just offered a virtual firewall and not other key security services.

If you are in Las Vegas next week, we encourage you to come by the Cisco booth (#700) for a look. If not, stay tuned for more details…

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