The datacenter is the heart of the enterprise due to its central role across nearly all business processes. In some ways, there's been a reversion back to more centralized IT architecture, leveraging virtualization and cloud technologies to better enable overall business agility. As organizations look to deploy private cloud technologies and further build out next-generation datacenter architectures, the demand for scalable security solutions with integrated management will only increase.
From a firewall perspective, there are three key deployment scenarios in the datacenter: perimeter, core, and virtual. The datacenter perimeter is the egress point for external traffic, meaning robust malware and intrusion prevention scanning is required for threat detection. In the core of the datacenter, access control is the larger concern, so more traditional firewall deployments are common. Finally, most environments are at least a mix of physical and virtual resources, so inspection at the virtual layer is necessary to control east-west traffic between servers within the datacenter.
With this variety of deployment possibilities, management and analytics become even more important. Centralized control over all edge, core, and virtual firewalls, and the ability to standardize policy across both physical and virtual environments, enables administrators to be more efficient and helps prevent security from weakening over time as the infrastructure changes and evolves. Further, datacenter environments require a strong reporting solution to assist in detecting attack patterns, aid in forensic investigations, and log policy and compliance metrics.
Security solutions must deliver on certain requirements to specifically address the datacenter. To start, the scalability of security products is of the utmost importance in datacenter environments in order to keep up with overall datacenter growth and keep workloads protected as requirements change. Secondly, the management of security solutions in the datacenter needs to be streamlined and automated, especially to address virtual solutions and dynamically apply policy when new instances are created.
Next, solutions must be effective in detecting threats, which has become especially true as threats have become more targeted and stealthy. Both false positives and false negatives are key concerns in the datacenter. Finally, the performance of security products must keep up with the overall requirements in the datacenter. Security cannot become a choke point for the same reasons mentioned relative to scalability.
While the datacenter gets a lot of the attention relative to performance, it is an area of concern at the enterprise edge as well. Performance is not just about throughput, but the ability to create and sustain connections as well, which becomes especially important when thinking about application access and controlling use at the edge. In the datacenter, virtualization, voice, and video have begun to lead to the adoption of 40- and 100-GbE connections. This has caused firewall throughput requirements to quickly surpass 100 Gbps in many environments. Additionally, in both the datacenter and at the edge, latency must be minimal to ensure a high quality of service.