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Security Fears Slow Virtualization

A new study indicates that many enterprises fear the security dangers that virtualization technology may introduce

Concerns about security may be slowing the adoption of virtualization technology, according to a report issued yesterday by research firm emedia.

Half of IT organizations are either using virtualization today or planning to do so within the next 18 months, emedia found in an email survey. More than half (52 percent) say the technology introduces some new security challenges.

Some companies may be putting off their implementations of virtualization because of these concerns. "The advantages of virtualisation appear to be tantalising but it seems that IT managers approach it with caution," says David Clark, managing director at emedia.

"Interestingly, the later the implementation of the technology is scheduled for, the more apprehensive IT professionals seems to be," the research firm says. Some 51 percent of current users think that virtualization poses some new risks, but the figure rises to 57 percent among those planning to use the technology within the next six months -- and to 66 percent among those planning to adopt it within the next six to 18 months.

The study is not the first to suggest that virtualization introduces a new set of security problems. In April, Gartner issued a report that predicts virtual servers will be less secure than physical servers through 2009. (See Gartner: Virtualization Can Weaken Security.)

Among the respondents to the emedia survey, the chief security concerns were about virtualization patching and updates (32 percent), guest-to-guest attacks (27 percent), and the addition of new host software (22 percent).

IT professionals plan to attack these threats by taking various safety measures, including staff training/improving understanding (51 percent), patching/updating/hardening servers (38 percent), using firewalls (30 percent), and separating networks/subnetting/routing (25 percent).

The study also points out that security is only one of several hurdles that are slowing virtualization's adoption. Some of the other obstacles include the lack of a compelling business case for total cost of ownership and return on investment (20 percent), priority given to other network upgrade projects (19 percent), cost/budget constraints (18 percent), and insufficient staff expertise (15 percent).

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

  • emedia
  • Gartner Inc. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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