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HyTrust takes auditing, monitoring to the clouds

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VMworld Virtual security appliance maker HyTrust is revving up its wares with a new 2.1 release and positioning itself as the go-to partner for auditing and compliance for VMware's new vCloud Director.

vCloud Director, announced this week at the VMworld virtualization and cloud extravaganza in San Francisco, is the heart of VMware's attempt to scale up its ESX Server hypervisor and its vSphere add-on management tools so they can create multi-tenant public and private clouds.

HyTrust, a startup that came out of stealth mode in April 2009, has created a virtual appliance that runs inside of an ESX Server virtual machine. The HyTrust 1.0 appliance was used to lock-down VMware's ESX Server 3.5 hypervisor and provide an audit trail for every little thing that system administrators do as they monkey around with the hypervisor and its virtual machines.

The HyTrust appliance originally came as a virtual machine, but was also available as a hardware appliance - meaning HyTrust buys a server and installs it for you at a relatively expensive price of $7,500 compared to $3,500 if you plunk the virtual appliance on your own server.

With HyTrust 1.5, announced a year ago at the VMworld event, the virtual compliance appliance added support for VMware's ESX Server 4.0 and ESXi 4.0 hypervisors and the Distributed Switch, a virtual switch VMware has created to virtualize network connections between VMs and actual real switches used to link the VMs and their underlying physical servers together.

That update also added support for the Nexus 1000V virtual switch at the heart of the "California" Unified Computing System blade servers from server wannabe Cisco Systems as well as adding in two-factor authentication access to virtual machines and vCenter management consoles. With this kind of authentication, you ask for a user name and password as well as a security token.

In February this year, when HyTrust announced $10.5m in second-round venture funding (bringing its total to $16m), the company also formed a partnership with Cisco to more tightly integrate with the Nexus 1000V switch, and said that it was working on support for the XenServer hypervisor from Cisco Systems and the Hyper-V hypervisor from Microsoft. Earlier this year, HyTrust said that it had slated delivery for XenServer support for the second quarter of this year, which has come and gone.

This week, speaking by cell phone to El Reg from VMworld, Eric Chiu, president and chief executive officer at HyTrust, said the company was still doing its prototype work for integrating with Microsoft's Hyper-V and its Systems Center console. And as for XenServer and the Open vSwitch that Citrix is pushing, all Chiu would say is that "longer term, we will look at other hypervisors."

The HyTrust 2.1 appliance announced this week comes only as a virtual machine appliance, now called HyTrust Appliance Enterprise Edition. And rather than offering a single license for a management server, HyTrust has switched to a more utility-style price at $750 per processor socket per year for the ESX Server hosts under its watchful eye. HyTrust also has let go of a freebie HyTrust Appliance Community Edition, which can span up to three ESX Server hosts.

HyTrust 2.1 supports real Nexus 7000 end-of-row and Nexus 5000 top-of-rack switches from Cisco as well as the virtual Nexus 1000V switch. The 2.1 release also adds support for the ESX Server 4.1 and ESXi 4.1 hypervisors and the vSphere 4.1 stack from VMware and the forthcoming vCloud Director extensions for creating multi-tenant clouds.

The updated HyTrust appliance also has active-active high availability clustering so in the event that one of the two HyTrust images crashes, the other continues doing the auditing work. VMware added active-active clustering for the vCenter Server management console back in February 2009. This feature was called vCenter Heartbeat, and it cost $9,995.

HyTrust also announced that its eponymous appliance is now interoperable with RSA's enVision security information and event management software. RSA is, of course, owned by storage giant EMC, as is VMware. (Cisco and EMC should just merge and get it over with. They are already stuck together like two dogs in a hedge - might as well make it legal. And they might as well buy HyTrust, while I am thinking about it.)

A future product called HyTrust Cloud Control was demonstrated running a multi-tenant cloud based on Cisco's UCS and VMware's vCloud Director and vSphere 4.1 stack, and this is the business opportunity that HyTrust is focusing on rather than worrying about broader hypervisor support.

HyTrust Cloud Control will sport multi-factor authentication and federated identity, persistent zoning for multi-tenancy, granular role-based access control for the separation of duties in a number of different ways, and hardening and deeper monitoring of the cloudy infrastructure. No word on when HyTrust Cloud Control will be ready for primetime. ®

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