Cloud computing represents something of a fundamental shift in how IT is deployed and managed. Given that, it only stands to reason that new approaches to securing IT in the age of the cloud are also going to be required.
That’s the thinking that went into the development of a new cloud application security gateway from FireLayers that, as software running on a third-party data center, is designed to support any cloud computing environment.
FireLayers CEO Yair Grindlinger says rather than relying on traditional firewalls to secure cloud applications, the FireLayers Cloud Application Security Gateway allows IT organizations to make use of a service that eliminates the need to route every request to access an application through an appliance installed on their premises.
In fact, Grindlinger says the whole promise of the cloud is to allow users to access applications from anywhere using their mobile devices. Forcing them to route that access through a firewall adds latency that adversely affects the performance of, for example, mobile applications. The FireLayers security gateway provides all the application-level security required in a way that can be easily deployed on a cloud platform regardless of where it is physically located with a minimal amount of latency, says Grindlinger. Access to the cloud application is instead routed through the FireLayers Cloud Application Security Gateway running on servers hosted by FireLayers.
In addition, FireLayers provides access to analytics tools that enable IT organizations to more easily discern which cloud applications are actually being used within their organization.
Gateways in the cloud, says Grindlinger, won’t replace the need for firewalls to protect the traditional enterprise. But in cloud computing scenarios, Grindlinger says appliances are unwieldy to deploy and don’t scale very well across multiple instances of cloud computing deployments.
In the context of the FireLayers Cloud Application Security Gateway, Grindlinger adds that it becomes much simpler to apply security policies across those multiple cloud computing deployments. In fact, FireLayers claims to be the first vendor to support the eXstensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) protocol for access control interoperability.
The degree to which access control ever becomes truly interoperable is, of course, debatable. But for IT organizations that need a more flexible approach to application security in the age of the cloud, the good news is that options beyond the firewall are finally starting to emerge.