5 Important Things to Consider When Evaluating Security for a Virtualization Platform

Kathryn Schwab

April 29, 2014

5 Important Things to Consider When Evaluating Security for a Virtualization Platform

As a VAR or managed services provider, you’ve no doubt received queries from many of your customers about server and desktop virtualization, and how they can take advantage of these technologies to improve business operations.

Some of these companies might already be dabbling in virtualization. But regardless of where they’re at with server and desktop virtualization, they’re also likely to be concerned about information security in this new environment. They want to be sure that their data and applications are safe from malware and other threats.

Without effective security strategies and tools that were created for the virtualized environment, some of the gains made possible by these technologies might be negated. Here are 5 key factors that you need to consider when evaluating anti-malware solutions designed for virtualized environments:

1. Does the solution have centralized and deduplicated components?

In traditional, non-virtualized environments, client devices were essentially independent entities when it came to security, and antivirus software was designed to support that type of environment. But with virtualization, running an independent antivirus client in each virtual machine (VM) will lead to significant performance problems.

If you remove the scanning components from VMs and move them to dedicated, Linux-based virtual appliances that greatly reduces the performance impact of the endpoint anti-malware solution. An anti-malware solution should be able to support this type of scanning offload on multiple platforms and across multiple endpoint types and operating systems.


Centralizing the scanning results and the associated data is also critical. That way, if a given file is scanned on one VM of a host, there’s no need to scan the same file on any other VM that a virtual appliance protects.

2. What impact does the solution have on performance?

Hindering the performance of end-user systems is a common struggle for security managers. If a security solution affects the way a system or application works, users will be less likely to take the necessary precautions to thwart attacks.

If anything, the solution should make users feel as if they’re getting better performance than they did with an alternative anti-malware solution. Vendors might make bold statements about performance—either the performance of their anti-malware product or its impact on overall performance.

But it’s important that you or your customers verify any performance claims in your own environment before making a decision to buy an anti-malware solution for a virtualized environment.

3. Does the solution integrate with virtualization management systems and support multiple environments?

When introducing any new component into an IT environment, seamless integration is important. Otherwise things tend to go wrong and users are not happy and can’t get their work done. In non-virtualized environments, end-point anti-malware solutions are integrated with Active Directory.

And while that integration still needs to be supported when you’re dealing with end points in these traditional environments, in a virtualized setting integration with virtualization management systems is needed. The two most common examples are vCenter and XenServer.

But your customers might also need to have integration with other management consoles, such as those offered by public cloud providers. The integration should be able to support the creation and deletion of VMs, allow security policy to be applied based on grouping, and ensure that management tasks performed in the virtualization management console are reflected in the security management console.

4. Is the anti-malware solution easy to implement and manage?

Most any CIO or security executive will tell you that the rate of adoption and use of a technology tends to be higher when the product is easy to deploy, use, manage and maintain. How many of your business customers consider ease-of-use and ease-of-maintenance to be low priorities when evaluating solutions?

The same goes for anti-malware products. When you’re considering what solution to offer your customers, be sure to look at how easy it is to implement and manage features. Does the product have a user-friendly interface? How easy will it be to troubleshoot problems if they arise?

5. Does the solution have the ability to manage both virtual and physical end points, including smartphones and tablets?

The typical enterprise IT environment today consists of a variety of computing devices: desktop systems, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Even many smaller businesses are jumping onto the mobile bandwagon, allowing employees to use their own devices for work.

So the anti-malware solution must be able to support a wide variety of both virtual and physical end points.

Look for a solution that has modular management consoles that are capable of scaling across all of your customers’ traditional and mobile end points, regardless of how large or distributed their computing environment is.

To learn more about implementing security for virtualized environments, download:

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Kathryn Schwab

Kathryn serves as Enterprise Marketing Director and has been an enterprise software marketing and communications professional, since 1996. Best known for her work with technology media and analysts, Kathryn ran a successful marketing and communications business from 2003 until 2011, working with a number of tech start-ups and established companies. Prior to joining Bitdefender, Kathryn had also worked with three other security industry leaders, which specialized in Virtual Private Networks, Host Intrusion Prevention and Two-Factor Authentication. She joined Bitdefender in 2011 and currently leads the enterprise marketing team.

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