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Ask the Data Center Expert: Trends in Latin America

I have a keen interest in the Latin American region because several of my closest friends and my respected colleagues are from this region. Also, internal market forces and global demand are accelerating the rate of data center projects, further heightening my interest. Last year, I visited the region where I got to see data center build outs and realized the extent of the “greenfield” opportunity. I very recently got acquainted with Daniel Garcia, a 12-year Cisco veteran and Security Specialist sales engineer covering the Latin American region. I found his insights most valuable and different to what I usually hear.

For Daniel the greatest difference between the Latin American Region and other regions is the number of Greenfield data center projects. But Daniel finds that many customers are looking for “cookie cutter” solutions that they implement into their environments without much customizing. This was something I hadn’t heard before but which makes excellent sense. The reason for this approach is that many customers lack in-house IT expertise and require proven solutions. The benefits of this approach mean less risk, less cost and with any validated solutions, far less time in production and testing. The downside is that each organization has distinct needs according to their business line and size, and their risk tolerance will vary. Daniel works with his customers to tweak data center reference architectures to provide customers with a tailored and secure data center environment. Read More »

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Streamline Your Data Center with Three Key Optimized Security Measures

The data center is at the heart of promoting IT transformation. Mobility initiatives have created a need for increased connections; power initiatives have created a need for greater efficiency; and the increased need for real-time workload processing are driving that change. I see these as “signature” trends in 2013 and also highlighted these in my earlier post this year. Conventional IT security approaches often add complexity and usually impede efficiency gains. What’s needed is an approach that does not introduce latency or require the data center to be reconfigured to accommodate security. Neither should it introduce a myriad of new of tools, new reports, and new processes.

Very few vendors can claim to provide an end-to-end architecture where security is a key programmable element of the underlying data center fabric. This capability not only accelerates the adoption of virtualization and cloud technologies but also mitigates the complexity associated with disparate and siloed security technologies. The benefits are increased business agility backed by assured security posture, strong alignment of business function to security and reduced operational costs. In this paradigm, data center and IT executives will no longer be forced into making tradeoffs between business function and security to ensure newer and more capable services.

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The Three Pillars to Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy: Part 3 Visibility

In this last part of this series I will discuss the top customer priority of visibility.  Cisco offers customers the ability to gain insight into what’s happening in their network and, at the same time, maintain compliance and business operations.

But before we dive into that let’s do a recap of part two of our series on Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy on threat defense. In summary, Cisco understands that to prevent threats both internally and externally it’s not a permit or deny of data, but rather that data needs deeper inspection. Cisco offers two leading platforms that work with the ASA 5585-X Series Adaptive Security Appliance to protect the data center and they are the new IPS 4500 Series Sensor platform for high data rate environments and the ASA CX Context Aware Security for application control.  To learn more go to part 2 here.

As customers move from the physical to virtual to cloud data centers, a challenge heard over is over is that they desire to maintain their compliance, security, and policies across these varying instantiations of their data center. In other words, they want to same controls in the physical world present in the virtual – one policy, one set of security capabilities.  This will maintain compliance, overall security and ease business operations.

By offering better visibility into users, their devices, applications and access controls this not only helps with maintaining compliance but also deal with the threat defense requirements in our overall data center.  Cisco’s visibility tools gives our customers the insight they need to make decisions about who gets access to what kinds of information, where segmentation is needed, what are the boundaries in your data center, whether these boundaries are physical or virtual and the ability to do the right level of policy orchestration to maintain compliance and the overall security posture.  These tools have been grouped into three key areas: management and reporting, insights, and policy orchestration.

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The Three Pillars to Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy: Part 2 Threat Defense

In part one of our series on Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy, we did a deeper dive on segmentation.  As a refresh, segmentation can be broke into three key areas. The first, the need to create boundaries is caused because perimeters are beginning to dissolve and many environments are no longer trusted forcing us to segment compute resources, the network and virtualized attributes and environments. Along with segmenting physical components, policies must be segmented by function, device, and organizational division. Lastly, segmenting access control around networks and resources whether they are compute, network, or applications offers a higher level of granularity and control. This includes role-based access and context based access.  Ensuring policy transition across the boundaries is of primary concern. To learn more on segmentation go here.

Today we will dive deeper into Cisco’s security value-add of threat defense.

Technology trends such as cloud computing, proliferation of personal devices, and collaboration are enabling more efficient business practices, but they are also putting a strain on the data center and adding new security risks.  As technology becomes more sophisticated, so are targeted attacks, and these security breaches, as a result, are far more costly.  The next figure is from Information Weeks 2012 Strategic Security Survey and illustrates top security breaches over the previous year.

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The Three Pillars to Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy: Part 1 Segmentation

Last week Cisco announced several new products in it’s Defending the Data Center launch. These included the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance Software Release 9.0, Cisco IPS 4500 Series Sensors, Cisco Security Manager 4.3, and the Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall, adding enhanced performance, management, and threat defense capabilities. Core to this launch was also Cisco’s new strategy for developing Secure Data Center Solutions, a holistic approach similar to what Cisco previously did with Secure BYOD. This new strategy integrates Cisco security products into Cisco’s networking and data center portfolio to create validated designs and smart solutions. Organizations that lack bandwidth and resources or the know how to test and validate holistic designs can simply deploy template configurations based on pre-tested environments that cover complete data center infrastructures. These designs enable predictable, reliable deployment of solutions and business services and allow customers infrastructures to evolve as their data center needs change.

In developing this strategy we interviewed numerous customers, partners and field-sales reps to formulate the role of security in the data center and how to effectively get to the next step in the data center evolution or journey, whether you are just beginning to virtualize or have already advanced to exploring various cloud models. Three security priorities consistently came up and became the core of our strategy of delivering the security added value. They are Segmentation, Threat-Defense and Visibility.  This blog series, beginning with segmentation, will provide a deeper dive into these three pillars.

Segmentation itself can be broken into three key areas. Perimeters are beginning to dissolve and many environments are no longer trusted, forcing us to segment compute resources, the network, and virtualized environments to create new boundaries, or zones. Along with segmenting physical components, policies must include segmentation of virtual networks and virtual machines, as well as by function, device, and logical association. Lastly, segmenting access control around networks and resources whether they are compute, network or applications offers a higher level of granularity and control. This includes role-based access and context based access.  Let’s discuss even deeper.

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