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Centre of attention

Centre of attention 

According to a report from CRN, the SDDC market was valued at $360 million in 2013. However, that figure is expected to skyrocket to $3.7 billion by 2016 as more companies get on board, especially as the SDDC becomes more cost-effective.

But, as is the case with every new IT infrastructure development, proper security measures need to be introduced. Given that the SDDC is responsible for storing and managing sensitive data for organizations, ensuring that it’s armed to the teeth is vital. Additionally, the SDCC will soon reach a new plateau as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) begins to take off.

Securing the SDDC was one of many hot topics at McAfee’s FOCUS14 event in Las Vegas. IT in Canada sat down with Rishi Bhargava, VP and GM of SDDC security for Intel’s security solutions division to discuss all things SDDC.

IT in Canada: What is the history of Intel’s involvement with the SDDC?
Bhargava: If you look at Intel’s involvement, there has been a very strong history with the SDDC. In fact, Intel calls it software-defined infrastructure. Intel’s investment (in the SDDC) is not only on the hardware side of the data; we also have a very large team which enables partners like VMware and a lot of open-source contributions for OpenStack and other environments for the SDDC.

From the Intel Security perspective, our engagement with the SDDC has been pretty heavy over the last four years. We launched our first product focusing on that space, McAfee Move, which was a virtualization security product optimized (for) anti-virus. I was the product manager for that product a few years ago. In addition, we have always had a large number of our IPS and firewall appliances deployed on the perimeter in data centres.

In April of this year, we created a new division, SDDC Security, which is what I am running. The point (of creating it) was there was a lot of work happening in SDDC specifically. For us, the question was how do we look at security in the SDDC space, and what can we do there? We had a lot of research items which we had been (developing) with the Intel team because Intel has a very large SDDC investment. Based on some of that research work, we are bringing out our first product, the Intel Security Controller, to the market in December.

ITIC: Why are more enterprises considering SDDC adoption?

RB: Simply put, there are three benefits we see that our enterprise customers are claiming for the SDCC. The first one is agility. They can get flexibility and agility for what they need in terms of capacity on demand. The second is cost. Now that you can grow and expand on an as-needed basis, your costs to invest upfront come down. The third is security. Some of the SDDC architectures make security possible in a way that didn’t exist before. They are way more secure from the get-go.

ITIC: Various reports indicate that the SDDC model is poised to expand faster than any other storage market. What is the primary reason for this?
RB: Software-defined storage is one aspect of the SDDC infrastructure. The reason why software-defined storage is getting that traction for its adoption is because when you virtualize your server, you’re dealing with the hard ware from the application that comes with it. If you start to do that for storage, it gets you very similar benefits.

Imagine today, when you’ve got to store a large amount of particle data or some other database, you’re going to point to a storage device and say, “Store it there.” What you can do with software-defined storage is create a pool of storage. It doesn’t matter where it resides; all that happens is the application says “I need 2 TB of storage. You optimize it for me, and optimize it for performance or capacity.” Horizontal scaling can also happen. People can keep adding storage independent of the application changing so that the application can be de-linked to the hardware.

ITIC: Why are more enterprises interested in achieving Infrastructure as a Service through the SDDC?
Infrastructure as a Service, in my mind, is the next step in cost savings and agility. If you were to build a private cloud, in that case, you still need to invest some hardware cost over time and then horizontally scale over time. In a pure IaaS model, you don’t even do that. What you’re able to say is, “I’m going to pick a cloud provider, and I’m going to use the computers needed.” It is both development- and cost-friendly, which makes it attractive to enterprises. The challenge with the IaaS start-up case is how they can implement the same security policies that they implement on an on-premise infrastructure for IaaS.

ITIC: How easy is it for enterprises to implement IaaS?
RB: I think it depends on what application it is. If you start to take your SAP or your on-site CRM and put it on IaaS, it will not be easy at all. On the other hand, if you’re starting to take your Web application or the new application that your team is developing and build and scale it faster, that’s the way to go. IaaS offers you a much easier path to do that.

ITIC: What solutions does Intel offer for software-defined data storage?
Intel offers a lot of solutions from a hardware perspective to scale out the storage pieces. At Intel Security, we have mostly focused on software-defined networks and software-defined computing. Storage, from our perspective, becomes part of computing because eventually, an application will be accessing it. When we think of the security model, we are focusing on how you leverage SDN and software-defined computer virtualization to create more secure environments to deploy firewalls dynamically.

For example, what software-defined infrastructure enables us to do is deploy our security controls with ease on an on-demand basis and make them scalable. What we can do with SDI and our security integration is say, “I want two firewalls at these two locations. These VMs go to this firewall, and these VMs go to the other firewall for security.” Everything can be automated, from the routing of the network and deployment of the firewall virtual machines to the sub-policy mapping, and that’s the benefit. True software-defined security is what we’re calling it, and just like having SDI, you need software-defined security so you can deploy it faster, and with ease.

ITIC: What are Intel’s future plans for the SDDC?
RB: Intel is heavily invested in making sure that the customers get the benefits of the software-defined infrastructure. There will also be a lot of investments in SDI to enable OpenSource and OpenStack environments, and working with strong partners like vmWare in order to enable SDDCs. Finally, Intel Security’s focus is you cannot have the next-generation architecture like SDI without security. Specifically, it involves how you leverage the power of SDI to create more secure environments and how you make sure you secure the data centre environments without certain technologies in place.

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