VMware strives to expand security partner ecosystem

VMware yesterday said it has added more security vendor partners to its vShield product-development program in which security firms work with the company to develop data protection specifically designed for VMware's flagship virtualization platform, which today is vSphere 5.0.

Slideshow: Products at VMworld

At a VMworld presentation, Allwyn Sequeira, VMware's chief technology officer of security and vice president of security and network solutions, announced that McAfee, Symantec, Sophos, Kaspersky Lab, BitDefender and Lumension Security were now signed as part of the vShield program. However, these new partners themselves made little fanfare about it and weren't represented on stage.

So far, only Trend Micro has been a VMware partner for vShield, developing anti-malware specifically designed with VMware for virtual machines using the agentless approach proposed by VMware to try and avoid the performance issues traditional agent-based anti-malware can engender when scanning virtualized environments. (HP TippingPoint and Sourcefire have developed VMware-specific intrusion-prevention systems.)

McAfee begged off discussing vShield altogether but today, Sean Doherty, Symantec chief technology officer and vice president of the security group, said Symantec is looking at how it might leverage the vShield approach, but there were as yet no formal decisions about precisely what Symantec would do.

Symantec isn't totally in agreement with VMware's agentless approach. "We believe you can't totally do antimalware without an agent," said Doherty, adding Symantec does expect to have something more decisive to say about vShield by yearend.

Along with technical issues, there are political implications to the vShield approach for security vendors with a large installed base of customers as the vShield program asks for considerable investment in time and money to develop what are new types of security products under VMware's oversight, plus sharing of threat-detection information with vShield Manager in a middleware approach.

In an interview with Network World, Sequiera acknowledged the vShield program in many respects "does represent a challenge to the status quo" and that sometimes new ideas may be "viewed with suspicion." He says it is up to VMware to prove its concepts about the agentless approach are viable, and Trend Micro, with its Deep Security product, "was the first to jump on this." But he said he expects the new vShield partners may end up with a different product outcome than Trend Micro.

The pressure to make vShield and its APIs a success is on VMware in some respects because VMware's earlier security API , the VMsafe APIs, weren't that successful. Sequiera candidly acknowledges that, saying, "we got the APIs wrong the first time," adding that "the major security vendors have found it hard to integrate with VMsafe."

There are a handful of security products besides anti-malware in the market based on the VMsafe APIs, which are expected to be phased out eventually. VMware is reluctant to pin down an exact date, though some vendors anticipate end of next year.

Because VMware has so far reserved the role of software-based firewalls and data-loss prevention under vShield to its own products, that has also contributed to unease among security vendors. But Sequiera says VMware is in discussions with Cisco on a firewall role in vShield. And there could be many other changes that could perk vendor interest. VMware insists its vShield APIs are open but in the early days of vShield has taken the approach of working very closely with a few selected vendors.

In general, the potential for building a new generation of security products specifically designed for VMware's virtualization software may be just beginning. Sequiera said there is work underway with Intel to make use of the security and encryption available in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware. VMware may have more to say about that by year-end, but bringing in TPM use into virtualization could provide strong authentication and security in the future.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Configuration / maintenanceVMworld; VMware; Symantec; security; McAfeehardware systemsData Centeranti-malwarekaspersky labbitdefendersophossourcefirevirtualizationmcafeeLumensionsymantectrend microsecurityVMware

More about BitDefenderCiscoCisco SecurityCisco SecurityHewlett-Packard AustraliaHPIntelKasperskyKasperskyLANLumensionMcAfee AustraliaSophosSymantecTippingPointTippingPointTrend Micro AustraliaVMware Australia

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ellen Messmer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place