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Post Response: Discussion: System Requirements

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    Post 1.

    Ash.

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    Background:
    The company’s 50% of the servers are virtualized, 25% are physical servers acting as hypervisors, and 25% are stand-alone physical machines. 

    Explain how you would assess the operating system requirements for virtualization if the organization wanted to virtualize 25% of physical stand-alone servers.

    Server virtualization is a process that creates and abstracts multiple virtual instances on a single server. Server virtualization also masks server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems.
    As per the study material, physical servers have been replaced by VMware, Citrix Xen, and Microsoft Hyper-V guest operating systems that offer all the benefits of a physical server with few limitations. One physical machine may have many virtual ones on top of it (Studymaterial,2023).
    But we need to have proper project management in place considering below (Studymaterial,2023):

    1. Requirements analysis for the client-server architecture
    2. Requirements traceability 
    3. Penetration testing
    4. Analytical activities assessments
    5. Software requirement analysis
    6. Technical requirements like cooling etc.
    7. Security and recovery assessment

    Moving 25% of stand-alone physical machines to virtualization also needs to have the below assessment:

    1. Whether the operating system can support multiprocessing
    2. Limitation of physical memory

    So what will I do?
    I will do below common industry best practices (Bigelow & Gillis,2023):

    • Put a project plan. I will put a clear understanding of why and where the technology fits in a business plan.
    • I will assess current & future hardware.
    • Continous Test and learn.
    • Focus on the business.
    • Start small and build out.
    • Adopt established industry guidelines.
    • Select a tool.
    • Support automation.

    Describe how you would implement controls to secure guest-to-host interaction between the virtualized operating systems and their hypervisors.

    Though virtualization has made a big impact in the IT and networking worlds, there is still a substantial lag in understanding virtualization and virtualized environments from a security point of view. Virtualization is heavily software-based, providing more potential vulnerabilities and attack surfaces for attackers to prey on. Virtual disks are typically stored as unencrypted files on a host; gaining access to them is just like having legitimate access.

    Some of the common virtualization attacks are:

    • Denial of Service (DoS):- It shutdowns the hypervisor. This can lead to the ability to add a backdoor to allow access to the VMs underneath the hypervisor.
    • VM jumping:- If a security hole in the hypervisor occurs and is found, a user logged into one VM can hop over to another VM and gain access to it to look at information or acquire it.
    • Host traffic interception: Vulnerabilities in the hypervisor can allow for tracking of system calls, paging files, and monitoring of memory and disk activity.

    So we will implement the few below steps (Komperda,2012):

    1. Provide server admins with on/off rights for their servers only and no others.
    2. Limit the Use of VMs to the Users That Need Them
    3. Create and Maintain a Library of Secure VM Builds
    4. Ensure that the host platform that connects the hypervisor and guests to the physical network is secure by setting file permissions, putting things in place to control users and groups, and setting up logging and time synchronization.
    5. Encrypt all traffic between clients and hosts, between management systems and the hypervisor, and between the hypervisor and hosts using SSL.
    6. Configure the NFS server to restrict access to specific IP addresses related to your hypervisors or use a firewall to restrict traffic to specific hosts.
    7. Conduct regular audits of the environment, including the virtual network, storage, hypervisor, VMs, and management systems.
    8. VMs shouldn’t be placed on storage, backup, or management networks connected to the hypervisor.
    9. Disable any copy-paste functionality to protect the confidentiality of the data and the integrity of the hypervisor and VMs.
    10. Perform constant monitoring of the hypervisor for any potential signs of compromise. Monitor and analyze the hypervisor logs consistently.
    11. Disable any unused virtual hardware that connects to the hypervisor.
    12. Disable all local administration of the hypervisor and require a centralized management application.
    13. Require multi-factor authentication for any admin functions on the hypervisor.
    14. Do not allow any remote access to the host or hypervisor.

    Choose a project management methodology you would use to manage the virtualization project’s analysis, planning, and implementation.

    There are many project management methodologies, like waterfall, agile, Kanban, six sigma, etc., to choose from.
    I will go with the Agile methodology for project management. This will help implement the virtualization, a small development cycle with security and testing in a small and recurring manner. Implement, test, and then analyze, fix and implement again.
    An agile approach to data center virtualization and consolidation offers several significant
    benefits, including (Joshi,2013):

    1. Better risk management.
    2. Incremental addition to business value.
    3. Better resource utilization with minimal waste of time and effort.
    4. Faster execution. As a by-product, the analysis of existing inventory identifies servers that can be
      decommissioned, which leads to savings in real estate, power, licensing, and support
      costs.
       

    Reference:

    Bigelow, S. & Gillis,A.(2023). What is server virtualization? The ultimate guide. Retrieved from: https://www.techtarget.com/searchitoperations/definition/What-is-server-virtualization-The-ultimate-guide

    Joshi (2013). Agile Data Center Virtualization. Retrieved from: https://education.emc.com/content/dam/dell-emc/documents/en-us/2013KS_Joshi-Agile_Data_Center_Virtualization_and_Consolidation.pdf

    Post 2.

    Nick 

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    Hello to all and hello to week nine! It’s taken two months to get here, and we’re almost done – let’s sprint across the finish line! For this week’s discussion, the main focus is implementing security controls to secure an enterprise virtualization platform. There are three main concerns, and I’ll follow them with answers:

    1. Explain how you would assess the operating system requirements for virtualization if the organization wanted to virtualize 25% of physical stand-alone servers.

    – Virtualizing 25% of the existing physical stand-alone servers would be an easy task. A small discovery mission would answer what server os is running on the aforementioned servers, and with that information a sound judgement could be made as to what the OS requirements would be for each server and the services it runs. Also, comparing the physical server OS to the virtualization server would be keen to compare core cpu needs. Maintaining the same operating space is critical, to include the memory, input/output devices to be connected, processing power, processing speeds needed. 

    2. Describe how you would implement controls to secure guest-to-host interaction between the virtualized operating systems and their hypervisors.

    – There are many security controls applicable to this situation. First off, proper access controls are paramount to maintain a security baseline. Two factor authentication, securing the method of connection, implement a comply-to-connect feature to force updates, which secure vulnerabilities. Also, anti-malware, maintain least-privilege for the guest machine by limiting unused features.  

    3. Choose a project management methodology you would use to manage the analysis, planning, and implementation of the virtualization project.

    For this project, I believe that the Lean Project Management value is best. Typically reserved for manufacturing, and made famous by Toyota, Lean Project Management can drive the virtualization project and not waste resources by outlining operating needs based on a specific timeframe, and not just erroneous wants. Developing a culture of continuous improvement is vital for any IT sector, but especially when talking about VM’s. The 5th principle below implies process improvement is endless. “We should constantly question the value of all activities” (Moujib, 2007).

    The five principles can be directly and/or loosely tied with the virtualization project:

    1. Specify value in the eyes of the customer. 
    2. Identify the value stream for each product.
    3. Make value flow by eliminating waste.
    4. Let the customer pull the flow.
    5. Continuously improve in the pursuit of perfection.

     

    Best, 

     

    Nick

     

     

    Moujib, A. (2007) Lean Project Management. Retrieved from https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/lean-project-management-7364

     

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