I caught up recently with an old friend Dean Hickman-Smith, who is one of the Exec’s at cloud security leader vArmour after they announced a big partnership with HP Enterprises. Here’s a brief Q&A which serves as a great primer on one of the hottest trends in cloud security right now.

[easy-tweet tweet=”vArmour’s Q&A with @Comparethecloud about the HPE partnership announcement”]

Daniel Thomas (CTC): Congratulations on the new partnership with HP Enterprise. What’s the gist of the partnership and what can customers expect as a result?

Dean: Thank you. We’re very excited with our new HPE partnership not only because this means we can better service customers globally, but also because of the incredible validation this provides for our most differentiated capabilities, application-aware micro-segmentation with advanced analytics.

Daniel: That is a mouthful – what does that mean – application-aware micro-segmentation with advanced analytics?

Dean: At a simple level, it means that we help customers see and stop sophisticated attacks in their data centre, virtual and cloud environments.

According to Cisco, By 2019, more than 86% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centres

Here’s how to think of it a level deeper. According to Cisco, By 2019, more than 86% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centres (Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2015).  As companies began moving more and more workloads to the cloud (many of them in converged and now hyper-converged infrastructure models), we noticed that they tended to rely on their legacy perimeter-based models of security. But the perimeter breaks down in the cloud. In short, we all know that the bad guys are going to get in, but once they’re in, how can you see and stop them before they take control of your critical systems? No firewall can help you there. We’ve seen this story in the headlines.

Application-aware means moving the level of understanding and protection from the perimeter to the individual workload, so you can monitor application and user behaviour and detect threats at the application layer, not just the network layer. Micro-segmentation refers to the ability to segment applications using a set of rules rather than placing them in specific places in the network. Not only does this free people up to spin up workloads wherever they have the resources, but more importantly, it lets them quarantine them when they see something suspicious. This helps stop the lateral spread of threats in the data centre.

That’s where the analytics come in. Customers have so many workloads and so much happening in their data centre and cloud environments, that they need to know when an application starts to act strangely, like a web server trying to talk to a data base. That shouldn’t happen.

Daniel: So how does all this fit with the HP Enterprise products. What is the better together idea?

Dean: We are going to market with two products within HP Enterprise. The first solution is built around their hyper-converged platform, which combines with vArmour to ensure every workload has security built into it as they launch storage and compute resources. It then lets them segment their most sensitive assets – from personal information or healthcare records to credit card numbers – all in the same, shared infrastructure pool. This helps companies reduce their threat surface. The “better together” idea here has to do with protecting companies from threats without slowing them down.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Application traffic flowing inside virtualised and #cloud #datacentres is a blind spot for many enterprises”]

The other opportunity is to go to market with HPE’s leading SIEM (Security Information Event Management) platform HP ArcSight. These are huge systems that monitor incoming information from all kinds of enterprise systems, correlate information, and manage security response operations. Application traffic flowing inside virtualised and cloud data centres is a blind spot for many enterprises, and there has not been a simple way to understand context and  application-layer activity to SIEM platforms for correlation and response to incidents. With vArmour, it will be easy for users of HP ArcSight to see application communications from every workload across public and private clouds. This will also be able to respond in real time to sophisticated threats in ArcSight by making policy changes dynamically using vArmour’s to stop an attack. And here, the “better together” idea has to do with clearing up these blind spots and giving companies a new arsenal of tools to respond and stop threats.

Daniel: So our readership are all manner of cloud practitioners. What would you want them to understand about the current state of cloud security.

Dean: I would say two things – as a result of this partnerships it’s now simple and cost effective to deploy top notch security without slowing down your business. Don’t back off the challenge. The second is to stop thinking of infrastructure and security as totally separate entities, these come together in a converged world, just as they are coming together through this partnership with HPE.

stop thinking of infrastructure and security as totally separate entities