A virtual network is an effective network option, taking server hardware and software, and instead of creating a physical computer network, using virtualization tools to create virtual machines (VMs) connected through the internet. There are specific variations such as virtual LAN (VLAN) and virtual private networks (VPN), which emulate physical LANs or protect user data respectively.
Companies prefer using these types of networks mainly due to costs and efficiency. This is because virtual networks are centralized, sometimes to one server, which also simplifies operations and maintenance. There is readily available software such as VMWare that makes the virtualization process easier.
The Dangers With Virtual Networks
Adopting new virtual environments can add security risks of their own. Some ways data center security threats are common and they can be found in physical networks, but they can be native to virtual networks as well. These are some examples of how a company’s virtual network can be attacked:
- Start with the basics, virtually – spoofing – Virtual machines deal with threats that are similar to ones in physical systems. There are standard spoofing attacks on networks – making a machine or user on the network look legitimate. From there, false virtual machines can become a launching point for more attacks. If they are successful they can do things such as redirect the traffic from your IP address to one of their choosing, making it very easy to steal data.
- Data as a point of entry for attack – Injection attacks operate on virtual environments by slipping in program instructions to perform the attacker’s bidding. SQL injection attacks are very most common because it can go around password protection in order to gain access to a database on a server.
- Escape and control – A virtual machine escape, or VM escape, is an exploit more centered to virtual networks. A hacker gains access to one of the virtual machines, ‘escapes” the guest machine and gains access to the host operating system controlling the other VMs. From there, the hacker can control all other host machines.
How can you neutralize those threats?
Protection of your virtual network can start with solid IT security services – continuous monitoring, network assessments, PCI compliance, information security risk audits etc. – that will provide important safeguards. Professionals can work on multiple security options on the virtual network created for your business. Businesses can improve data center security in several ways:
- Isolation – Businesses have used VLANs to separate virtual machines from one another. (i.e. storage VMs from management VMs) Entire networks are also isolated from the base physical network as well.
- Segmentation – Networks can be supported across multiple tiers that separate applications and databases along with other features from each other. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard uses segmentation to protect cardholders from the network.
- Distribution firewalling – Instead of relying on a central firewall to make one point of security for the whole network, it enforces it on every individual host machine on the network. These types of firewalls are the optimal choice for businesses that use VPNs.
- Service insertion and chaining – Chaining adds additional layers of security, meaning that instead of there being a linear point of data transfer, there is now a series of redundancies. Cloud service providers use this to monitor traffic.
- Taking snapshots – Up-to-date images of a virtual machine’s state at its “best” time is integral for a virtual network. A business that has dealt with data loss can use snapshots from previous versions to repair the damage.
Safeguarding a virtualized environment
Network operators and engineers, as they manage large virtual networks, need robust security solutions for businesses. Virtual machines can be tricked and corrupted, data erased or entire operating systems can fall under the control of hackers. Professionals can assist you, providing you with options such as shutting out suspicious VMs, pinpoint monitoring, and backup. These are just some of the benefits a solid team of network experts can provide so that your virtual network stays safe and connected.
Data Center Expansion – What Does That Mean for You?
Data centers in the last few years have grown not only because of technological advances, but organically as companies adapt to industry changes. The fact that you spend so much of your IT budget on maintenance alone shows how necessary updates to your data center architecture are, in meeting growing demands. Here is a comprehensive look at one particular path you can take – colocation.
Location, location, location – two kinds
Many organizations have decided that merely expanding their own private data centers will not meet growing requirements. That is why many have opted to use colocation centers – offsite areas where the servers and storage you own can be placed in a rented facility. Colocation centers come in two basic forms that fit different benefits for a company.
- Retail Data Centers – This colocation option has providers giving you the space for racks, cages, cabinets, or even a room in a shared facility. Because their equipment is in a shared space, they can get support from the provider’s staff if they have a team available. Retail providers can give you more services, sometimes similar to those of carriers.
- Wholesale Data Centers – When you choose wholesale, you are in a sense leasing an entire facility. The company has complete control of the infrastructure, making it great for expansion and customization. The company does have to bring everything to set up the architecture, and there would be little to no response from the provider as far as tech support or maintenance – it will be all on your IT team.
Why choose Colocation?
The reasons a company might want to use colocation are many, but here are some of the most common:
- Power costs – Increasing power usage when upgrading your infrastructure is a challenge all IT professionals have to deal with. Colocation centers are great sources of additional power – this is definitely the case for wholesale data centers where you sometimes have limited power capacity levels allocated.
- Scalability – This is definitely the case for retail data centers. If you have suddenly reached capacity and need more space, for example, then you can simply ask for more space. You can then lower your costs by asking for less when what you currently use is not necessary.
- Location – When the data amount is region-specific, then it is important to have data centers off-site in the areas when needed. It is also a great option for driving down costs that can come from being away from a major data hub such as those in cities.
Who uses colocation centers?
Small-to-medium companies are common users of retail colocation centers as they sometimes only need incremental increases in space, or just temporary use. Companies that need more security – those in the financial and healthcare sector for example – might need the added control and protection afforded from a well-built, secure, wholesale colocation center. For example, companies that center on Internet of Things (IoT) data, use colocation centers a lot because they will need new nodes for the increasing big data coming from their devices. The switch from private to colocation The number of companies switching from private data centers to colocation centers has increased significantly in the last few years, with research showing that it will continue growing. Thanks to the help of cloud computing and cloud storage becoming more and more popular, these off-site centers will help drive down costs while giving your infrastructure more flexibility than a private center. The resources offered by colocation data centers can help maintain a strong IT profile in any growing industry.