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Virtual machine security: A look at HyTrust Appliance

Secure your VMs and ensure compliance with virtual machine management tools. The HyTrust Appliance boosts virtual machine security by controlling access to individual VMs.

Most administrators have the power to start and stop virtual machines (VMs) with a single click. But you need the...

proper virtual machine management tools to ensure virtual machine security. If you don't control VMs correctly, you can unintentionally bring down key elements of the infrastructure, such as an Exchange server or VMware vCenter.

One product designed to prevent these catastrophes is HyTrust Appliance, a virtual machine management appliance that sits between a VMware ESX hypervisor and the rest of the enterprise network. The appliance addresses virtual machine security by controlling access to individual VMs on the ESX hosts.

HyTrust's virtual machine management and compliance tool allows you to set up policies, access rules and take other virtual machine security measures to segregate the infrastructure from your users. You can manage the applications running on each VM or audit them without having overall control of the hypervisor itself. This virtual machine security method is something firewall and file server users have long taken for granted, but it's relatively new to the virtual world (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
This is the main Web interface for HyTrust Appliance. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

HyTrust Appliance also comes with numerous security templates for standard practices to improve virtual machine management. These templates make it easier to audit and remediate your hypervisors to make sure they're in full compliance.

Another important feature for virtual machine security -- called Password Vault -- changes the root passwords of all your managed ESX hosts to a unique and secure password. You can also allow temporary access if another admin needs to make changes to a particular host (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
HyTrust can enable temporary access for users that need to do emergency tasks using this interface. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

Like Virsto One virtual machine management software, the HyTrust box takes time to set up, and to refine each of the access roles and policies to secure your VMs correctly. You control these virtual machine security measures through Web menus. Both products also have free software trial downloads, so you can get used to the controls and understand how they fit into your virtual machine management strategy.

To secure VMs, there are various options virtual machine management tools. HyTrust Appliance is just one product in a growing wave of tools that help IT administrators better manage the virtual infrastructure and improve individual virtual machine security.

About the author
David Strom is an expert on network and Internet technologies and has written and spoken on topics such as VOIP, convergence, email, network management, Internet applications, wireless and Web services for more than 20 years. He has had several editorial management positions for both print and online properties in the enthusiast, gaming, IT, network, channel, and electronics industries.

This was last published in January 2011

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