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Consumerization of Enterprise IT Drives Demand for Unified Virtualization Architecture, New Security Standards

October 18, 2010 - 0 Comments

The global enterprise is being subjected to an explosion of consumer Internet applications, web services, smartphones, mobile applications and other consumer on-line services, based on the principle that the corporate IT experience should be as cool and easy to work or play with as the home entertainment and consumer device experience.  PC desktop browser access to web-based data is increasingly less significant in terms of resource demands and connectivity stress being forced on the corporate network.

The computing cycles required to support these consumer on-line services, however, will take network demand way beyond the PC desktop browser standard and require enterprises and service providers to allocate up to 10 times the conventional compute power, according to research by Morgan Stanley.  Internet application and web access devices like smartphones will potentially reach 10 billion units worldwide in the next few years, but it’s important to understand the new standards for network availability resource demand, and usability attitudes, will come from more than smartphones alone.[1]

Additionally, in terms of mobile computing, growth projections in 3G/4G networks will create new, rigorous demands on enterprise wireless network infrastructures (devices enabled with GPS, WiFi/WiMax, Bluetooth, and/or 3G/4G).

Another network infrastructure demand issue to prepare for is the business model that will be required to sustain this explosion of on-line consumer services and thus layered over available network resources, and that is the expected expansion in graphics heavy mobile advertising, in addition to a likely rapid uptake in social networking, location and gaming mobile apps.

Thus, to support and sustain availability of network resources to accommodate these inevitable consumer usage trends that will consume up to 10 times more compute power, new requirements will emerge to securely virtualize the IT infrastructure to maintain minimally acceptable quality of service, in addition to the IT professional skills and intellectual capital necessary to sustain it.

A unified virtualization architecture plays an important role in making IT networks more responsive to such dynamic business requirements. A unified virtualization architecture enables modern business environments by abstracting computing resources so that they can be used in a more direct and interchangeable way.

The move to virtualize the infrastructure that makes consumer applications universally available gives IT a new opportunity to leapfrog legacy topologies and implement ground-up security services running in the network.  A key principle of such an approach is the imperative to protect consumer data and user privacy as employees access consumer applications over the corporate network, while closing off windows of vulnerability to business critical information that resides in the data center.

For example, architecting a new security infrastructure standard for virtualized applications provides the ability to dynamically refresh the control points in the virtual machine topology making it more difficult to exploit from the outside.  This is also a better defense posture against agent-based attacks, which often require a host in the client/server model to propagate, thus any such “zero-day” attack can only survive as long as the virtual machine refresh cycles.  Further, many security updates, patches, OS version updates, corporate security policies, and configuration checks can be more easily provisioned dynamically across the enterprise leveraging a virtualized infrastructure centrally managed in the data center.

Enterprise IT professionals universally recognize that among the most difficult challenges to plan for with regard to capacity, performance and dynamic availability are on-line consumer applications offered on the public web. IT departments really have no control over who logs on, how many users log on at the same time, when they log on and with what device, and what they may do once they log on.

With the properly architected virtualization strategy, enterprise IT managers have a better grasp on knowing what sits in their environment, accessing resources to support it, and providing proper defenses to manage vulnerability challenges and ensure regulatory compliance.  This in turn will help avoid typical virtualization constraints in terms of how to deal with resource gluttons, interdependencies that conflict with the unified architecture, and non-conforming components.

[1] Examples include:  Tablet (iPad); E-reader (Kindle); MP3 player (iPod), full feature cell phone (PDA); Digital dashboards – auto/transportation with GPS; Mobile video (FloTV/MobiTV); Home entertainment/video games (Wii) wireless controls – home appliances/consumer video/ connected energy); Voice/video VoIP (Skype); flexible device/platform OS (Android)

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