Saturday, October 23, 2010

Invicea bake-off in a large company Internet isolation strategy

I had the opportunity to speak with a colleague last week. This gentleman is the CIO for a very large company and is in the middle of a bake-off between Invicea and another virtualization offering.

I'd discussed virtualization with him previously, but not in the form you're probably thinking. This is not a datacenter reduction strategy, rather an internet isolation strategy. He's trying to figure out a way to isolate his corporate network from the open internet.

My discussion started like this... "I'm interested in understanding how the Invincea test is working for you." His response? "No virtualization offering is worth anything by itself. Let me show you the what we wanted, what we did, and the architecture that we had to build behind it." In the end, this CIO built one reference architecture in which he tested two virualization strategies. Both were intended virtualize only Internet Explorer on the desktop.

His measures of success were easy to understand and very straight forward:

1. Isolate to the greatest extend, the internet from the corporate environment.
2. Do it with the least possible pain experienced in the end user experience.

I'd had a strategy discussion with him about a year ago. We discussed several options, including other virtualization applications, but also the use of simple terminal services, as well as a more simple idea.. issue everyone an iPhone. In the end, the iPhone dog didn't hunt and was dropped for discussions of the limitations of terminal services versus the implementation of an application virtualization strategy.

They've done a great job in that year, and now have about 1200 users in the pilot. Invincea had strengths and weakenesses, as did the other product. The other product has a significant price advantage, but is a tool developed for one thing, then used in another (therefore, no support for this particular use). Invincea on the other hand is a small company and therefore, more willing to accept development money and allow this large company to shape its product strategy.

Bottom line: No one application (including this wonderfully promising tech) is the cure-all. Remember defense in depth? Invincea handles only one of those layers, but with the right architecture in place provides a truly viable option. There are others however. Don't be afraid to look around. One company I talked with was experimenting with qmu! Others, VMWare, simple terminal services, etc. Do you homework. Do the architecture. And remember, in the end, nothing's cheap!

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