Flow Microsegmentation Guide

  • 20 January 2021
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Security Policies

Traditional data centers use firewalls to implement security checks at the perimeter—the points at which traffic enters and leaves the data center network. Such perimeter firewalls are effective at protecting the network from external threats. However, they offer no protection against threats that originate from within the data center and spread laterally, from one compromised machine to another.

The problem is compounded by virtualized workloads changing their network configurations and hosts as they start, stop, and migrate frequently. For example, IP addresses and MAC addresses can change as applications are shut down on one host and started on another. Manual enforcement of security policies through traditional firewalls, which rely on network configurations to inspect traffic, cannot keep up with these frequent changes and are error-prone.

Network-centric security policies also require the involvement of network security teams that have intimate knowledge of network configuration in terms of VLANs, subnets, and other network entities.

Nutanix Flow includes a policy-driven security framework that inspects traffic within the data center. The framework works as follows:

  • Security policies inspect traffic that originates and terminates within a data center and help eliminate the need for additional firewalls within the data center.

  • The framework uses a workload-centric approach instead of a network-centric approach. Therefore, it can scrutinize traffic to and from VMs no matter how their network configurations change and where they reside in the data center. The workload-centric, network-agnostic approach also enables the virtualization team to implement these security policies without having to rely on network security teams.

  • Security policies are applied to categories (a logical grouping of VMs) and not to the VMs themselves. Therefore, it does not matter how many VMs are started up in a given category. Traffic associated with the VMs in a category is secured without administrative intervention, at any scale.

  • Prism Central offers a visualization-based approach to configuring policies and monitoring the traffic to which a given policy applies.

  • Using Prism Central, you can configure syslog monitoring by forwarding Flow logs to an external syslog server. See Configuring Syslog Monitoring in the Prism Central Guide for details.

Note: Nutanix Flow supports only AHV hypervisor; security policies can not be applied to VMs running on other hypervisors.


For more information, please visit the Flow segmentation guide.

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