The Evolving Role of Security in a Software-defined World

The role of security is rapidly changing as data centers that were once typically defined by hardware and devices are taking the next step in virtualization to support both legacy enterprise applications and new cloud computing services. The software-defined data center (SDDC) has gained significant traction, as its infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service with control fully automated by intelligent software systems.

The SDDC is propelling cloud computing and the exploding field of microservices to the point of no return. This next phase of virtualization has enabled IT services to be delivered at breakneck speeds by pooling computing, storage and networking resources into one transparent and scalable system independent of any physical infrastructure on which it may partially rely. In fact, the SDDC supports both legacy enterprise applications and newer cloud computing services with one solution. This development has been heralded by many as the next evolutionary step of virtualization, but the resulting agility and speed this affords enterprise is nothing short of revolutionary.

However, while the SDDC has brought businesses advanced technology, new flexibility and tremendous opportunity, it also carries significant risk if left unaccompanied by a new and equally advanced and flexible approach to security. Much like the rest of the modern-day data center, security infrastructure must become software-defined to be effective. The flexibility and fluidity of the software-defined world requires that security measures remain in place no matter where an application might move – be it across physical infrastructure or the cloud.

It must be remembered that security should be a highly integrated component of any organization’s overall IT infrastructure. As such, it must be able to protect every bit of mobile plug-and-play code that so much as touches that organization’s network. In this brave new world, a system-wide view has suddenly become a much more global proposition than we ever would have imagined necessary in the days when hardware and physical infrastructure ruled.

While many enterprises tackle security in a piece-meal manner, this is the wrong approach. Now is the time for organizations to address the increasing shift toward the cloud by incorporating security measures that are easily integrated with security-defined networks and data centers. The simplest and most direct route to this type of set-up is through the adoption of a software-defined security model that’s as flexible and dynamic as the environment in which it must operate.

This approach will essentially end the need for physical security appliances and will ultimately redefine endpoint security. As security becomes software-defined, hardware will no longer need to be managed piece by piece. The all-too-familiar network limitations of legacy security solutions will be removed to empower organizations to more fully embrace the transformative power of public clouds.

This evolution will become necessary for all enterprises – regardless of any lack of willingness to adopt software-defined solutions. After all, while these organizations may refuse to relinquish certain aspects of their legacy infrastructures, the front-end applications of even the most stubborn enterprises will eventually and inevitably become cloud-based and mobile. This in and of itself is enough to drive the transition on the back end.  The good news – even for the most stubborn – is that this will ensure a safer and more secure environment for any organization concerned with the emerging threats, evolving attack vectors and ever-growing attack surface that come with a software-defined world.