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Sourcefire adds VM protection to RNA, new appliance

Sourcefire announces virtual machine coverage and virtualization developments, which will extend network analysis, access control and vulnerability assessment.

Sourcefire Inc. is moving into the virtualization market, the latest in a small but growing list of vendors to do so, as security again plays catch-up with adoption of business-driven technology .

Virtualization makes compelling business sense; it saves money on hardware and energy costs, as companies consolidate data centers and server farms. Virtual machine (VM) sprawl is explosive, rather than the controlled expansion Sourcefire originally expected to see in highly regulated and audited environments.

"What we're finding is that virtualization is the wild, wild West,;" said Michelle Perry, chief marketing officer at Columbia, Md.-based Sourcefire. "It's closer to the dot-com times, when people said: 'Just do the e-commerce, just get it done.' We're seeing there's this mandate to save space and energy. All bets are off."

Sourcefire, creators and owners of the venerable Snort IDS engine, has recognized that its network enumeration and threat detection and management systems needed to be able to detect and protect virtual machines on the network.

"More often than not, it's a matter of teaching an old dog new tricks," said Pete Lindstrom, research director for Spire Security LLC. "The whole goal is transparency. There's a lot about virtual environments that is similar to traditional IT environments."

Sourcefire's announcement Monday at VMWare's VMworld show covered two virtualization developments. First, the latest version of Sourcefire RNA 4.8, now detects VMware Inc. virtual machines, to which it was previously blind, so it can extend its network behavior analysis, network access control (NAC) and vulnerability assessment capabilities beyond the physical hosts.

The second piece is a virtual appliance version of RNA, which is meant to provide more transparent integration and more flexible deployment options. It will be available in Q4. Sourcefire's Perry said that customers will continue to be charged by the physical systems covered by RNA, including those that host multiple VMs.

"It makes sense to move with the market," said Lindstrom. "Virtualization is driving enterprise IT and virtual security could be cost-effective."

The Sourcefire news follows Check Point Software Technologies recent announcement of thea virtual security appliance, VPN-1 VE. Other vendors, including Citrix Systems Inc., Shavlik Technologies LLC,. Reflex Security Inc. and others have recently moved into the virtualization security market recently.

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