McAfee and Citrix simplify security management for virtualized environments

Citrix offers an open security solution across multiple hypervisors to challenge VMware VMsafe

Two weeks ago at the Citrix Synergy conference, McAfee and Citrix announced a strategic partnership and collaboration with a goal of making virtual desktop security simpler and more scalable for large enterprise deployments. McAfee said it was developing a platform and API to provide a framework that would accelerate and address the specific needs of security for virtualized environments. The new platform would allow McAfee to do what it does best: secure customers, keep their data safe, and maximize application performance for virtualized environments.

According to McAfee, security within the virtual machine or guest remains inefficient and resource-intensive, which limits the total number of virtual machines that can be deployed on a single host. This, in turn, challenges the long-term operational expected savings that organizations have hoped to achieve with virtualization.

[ Citrix is helping to develop a powerful new open source virtual switch that will allow security virtual appliances to gain access to network traffic | Keep up to date on virtualization with InfoWorld's Virtualization channel ]

While the need for security in a virtual environment is no different than the need in a physical world, the challenge is much different. Trying to place security software on dozens of virtual machines, each of which sits on the same physical server, can lead to unacceptable application performance problems. Giving customers a way to unify security management across physical and virtual infrastructures has been a major driver in McAfee's ongoing strategy.

Candace Worely, GM and SVP of endpoint security at McAfee, said the feedback the company has received from customers primarily in the virtualized world is centered around performance, virtual machine density, and having a single console to manage policies between the physical world and the virtual. Also, performance needs to be achieved without sacrificing security.

"Today, our customers find it difficult to deploy traditional security solutions on their virtual infrastructure, as it directly effects the end-user experience of either the desktop or the server," said Worely. "They face AV storming and cannot schedule security tasks without taking load on the hypervisor into consideration."

Worely went on to say, "As part of the collaboration, McAfee and Citrix plan to jointly develop solutions that will enable enterprises to provide enterprise-class security optimized for XenDesktop. With the growing expansion of VDI deployments, this partnership ensures that the move to virtual systems by CIOs will be secured and not be at risk because they lack effective virtual machine security. In addition, this partnership will also address hypervisor-level security technology for XenClient and XenServer. McAfee's and Citrix Systems' strategic partnership will focus at first on the most urgently needed security aspect, which is protecting the data of the enterprise from malware, viruses, worms, and Trojans, and then progress with additional compliance and management solutions that will need to be optimized and adaptive for the various types of virtual machine configurations, providing security without sacrificing efficiency."

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