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Duct Tape and Chewing Gum Isn’t Enough: Cloud and Virtual Environments Require Specialized Security

October 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm PST

By now, just about everybody who works in any area of IT knows that moving multiple workloads into one physical server optimizes server usage, minimizes procurement and operational costs, and increases overall efficiency of the network. As a result, virtualization technology remains one of the hottest topics in IT today, due to its overwhelming benefits to organizations of all sizes. Read More »

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UNS Fundamentals from TechWise TV

October 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm PST

Unified Network Services (UNS) is one of the three architectural pillars of Cisco’s Data Center Fabric, along with Unified Fabric and Unified Computing Services (UCS). UNS represents our portfolio of Layer 4-7 application services, including security, WAN optimization, application controllers, network monitoring and orchestration.  This TechWise TV episode is a great overview to the vision behind UNS and the benefits of pulling this all together, especially for virualized and cloud environments.

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Cisco Security Manager UCS Server Bundles Reduce Complexity and Time to Market

September 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm PST

It’s no secret that network threats have grown significantly over the past several years – in number, as well as complexity. This growth continues to place an overwhelming burden on IT resources, who have to combat these threats on a daily basis. These guys already have a rough job of just keeping up with the sheer volume and variety of threats … but also making them go through multiple hoops and internal approvals to procure and piece together the solution from different vendors is enough to push a lot of folks over the proverbial edge!

Read More »

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A New virtual ASA: On Full Display at VMworld in Las Vegas

August 29, 2011 at 10:32 am PST

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:

  • The ASA family is one of the most deployed and trusted security products in the industry, with over 15 years of security experience and more than 1 million appliances installed, and now is available in a virtual form factor for greater flexibility in the data center
  • Virtual ASA runs the ASA feature set, so important capabilities such as VPN , NAT, and much more will be available in addition to firewall capabilities
  • The Virtual ASA will run on top of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, fully leveraging the VM and traffic visibility provided by the Cisco virtual fabric, as well as optimal traffic steering to the security node from the VM and virtual switch

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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VSG: Vive la difference! A Tutorial for HP

July 27, 2011 at 11:06 am PST

One of the things I admire about Cisco marketing, and I think generates a lot of respect for us from our customers, is how we approach competitive marketing. Most importantly, we hardly ever do it. Sure, we arm our sales teams with specific comparison data, but it’s rare we feel the need to compare ourselves publically or to bash competitors. When you bash a competitor, it really only serves to give them credibility, and highlights that they must be doing something important to occupy your mindshare, or that of your customer’s.  Occasionally though, we are faced with not only having to take the gloves off a little more, but responding to the inevitable FUD that gets thrown our way.

This brings us to a blog post written by HP about Cisco’s Virtual Security Gateway (VSG), which unfortunately contains a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations of our product that we have to clear up.

Let’s start with this example:

Cisco has a product called the Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) for the Nexus 1000V Series. It is a virtual firewall that lets you enforce policy and segmentation virtual environments. All associated security profiles are configured to include trust-zone definitions and access control lists (ACLs) or rules. They also support VM mobility when properly configured. If there’s one thing the company is good at, it is those good-old ACLs developed back in the early 90s!

The strength of VSG’s firewall capabilities is its awareness of the virtual machine environment, and specifically the ability to write firewall rules based on the attributes of the virtual machine, attributes such as the NAME of the VM. This gives tremendous power to establish policies in virtual environments, such as logically isolating tenants running on the same machine, or separating VMs based on operating system or application type in virtual desktop environments, a use case I wrote about earlier. To imply VSG is enforcing good-old ACL’s from the 90’s is disingenuous at best. Read More »

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