As CTO at VMware, I witnessed major changes to almost all aspects of IT – apps, compute, security, and networking. However, one critical aspect of IT has fallen farther and farther behind – security. As a technology investor at General Catalyst, I have made attacking this disparity my top focus. As such, I’m incredibly pleased to share news of the public arrival of Illumio and its first products.
What problem does Illumio address?
So many of the recent infrastructure advances have been driven by the need for speed. IT teams are constantly asked to move faster—to be able to respond to changes and push new applications out quicker than ever. But they’re also held accountable for security and governance. And with the nearly daily drumbeat of highly visible security breaches, the latter has become a top priority and even a board-level discussion.
Our industry has delivered outstanding new technologies – public clouds, containers, and virtualization for example – with the promise of lowering costs and increasing agility. But it can be a challenge to securely adopt these technologies. Today’s security approach remains strongly tied to legacy network infrastructure and to enforcing policies at the perimeter of a datacenter. This perimeter is dead — mobile devices wounded it and the cloud finished it off.
Even within a single datacenter, today’s infrastructure-centric security can’t keep up. It was designed for relatively static environments while today’s data centers are far more dynamic and distributed. In an attempt to keep up, security teams must, at best, slow down the rest of IT. In the worse and not uncommon case, they end up omitting potential protections or face misconfiguring a spaghetti bowl of legacy rules and disconnected security implementations.
I constantly see this challenge—everyone knows that there’s this bright computing future out there, but we have to find a way to secure it. What’s more, we’d like to secure it in a simple and consistent way across all deployment destinations. These challenges are the focus of Illumio, a previously stealth-mode company that I’m ecstatic to be involved with. Illumio unveiled today the first-ever software platform that provides granular visibility and security for all data center and cloud computing environments.
What is Illumio’s solution?
Illumio has taken a clean sheet design to security with a very ambitious goal – provide outstanding and easy-to-manage security at the speed of cloud and that consistently applies across today’s and tomorrow’s IT environments. The result of the multi-year effort is Illumio’s Adaptive Security Platform, which provides visibility, security, and encryption for applications, free from dependencies on the network and designed for today’s highly dynamic world.
The solution consists of two primary components:
- The first is called the Virtual Enforcement Node (VEN). This is a lightweight piece of software that lives with each workload. Its job is to provide visibility and then to enforce protection.
- The protection instructions come from the Policy Compute Engine (PCE), which constantly analyzes all the relationships between different applications and different nodes, dynamically calculating the security policy and pushing it out to wherever the workload currently resides. What’s more, these security policies are written in natural language rather than the fragile infrastructure-centric languages of today’s tools.
These components work together to create a protective bubble that surrounds an application, moving with it whenever and wherever it runs – whether on bare-metal or virtualization in a private datacenter or in public clouds provided by Amazon, Google, or Microsoft.
In addition to this protection, Illumio provides granular visibility into application composition and behavior. The company name itself highlights the fantastic “Illumination” that IT receives when it sees exactly how components of the application are talking to one another and to the outside world. The look I’ve seen on customers’ faces when they get their first glimpse of what’s truly going on in their environment is priceless.
Where do we go from here?
Today’s launch is substantial from a product and technology standpoint. Just as exciting is the great list of customers who have been actively involved with Illumio in the product design and implementation and who are actively using the product today. We’re seeing excitement and adoption across a variety of company sizes and industry verticals – a testament to just how critical of a problem this is to IT.
I’m very excited to be part of today’s Illumio launch and to support the company on their “IT Illumination” journey. Illumio has taken an aggressive clean-sheet design to security, unshackling it from static infrastructure and from the fallen perimeter. I believe the end result will be security that is the enabler – not the roadblock – to safer and more agile IT.
Congratulations to the entire Illumio team, and here’s to an outstanding launch!