Start-up HyTrust debuts policy enforcement for VMware

Start-up HyTrust Monday launched its first product, an appliance for enforcing security policy related to administrative use of VMware ESX servers and the VirtualCenter management console.

The HyTrust Appliance v. 1.0, sold as physical hardware or software-based virtual appliance, is intended as a policy-enforcement gateway for all management traffic associated with ESX servers and VirtualCenter. "It makes sure all operations running are allowed, that the people are authorized and everything is logged," says Eric Chiu, founder and CEO of HyTrust.

The HyTrust Appliance would typically be deployed as a gateway to VirtualCenter and ESX servers for fine-grained authorization controls over administrators and "any end users having access to management capabilities in their virtual infrastructure," Chiu says.

The HyTrust appliance can make use of Active Directory for authentication and comes with its own management console, but the company is also working with Symantec to integrate HyTrust into the Altiris management framework through application-programming interfaces.

Chiu acknowledges the HyTrust Appliance does have some functional overlap with VMware's VirtualCenter management consol. But although VirtualCenter "does have simple role-based access controls," the HyTrust appliance is more comprehensive in controlling management operations and the hypervisor itself, and will support hundreds of more virtual-machines than VirtualCenter, according to Chiu.

"VMware's strategy is hypervisors," Chiu says. "Policy management is not in their DNA."

Chiu adds that HyTrust is also looking to develop policy-based management products for Citrix-based Xen and perhaps Microsoft's HyperV in the future.

HyTrust was co-founded with four partners in October 2007. In addition to Chiu (formerly in sales and business development at Cemaphore Systems and MailFrontier, later acquired by SonicWall) the partners include Renata Budko, vice president of marketing, Boris Strongin, president of engineering and Boris Belov, member of the technical staff.

HyTrust announced it has received US$5.5 million in venture-capital funding from Trident Capital and Epic Ventures.

The HyTrust Appliance 1.0 starts at $3,000 for the virtual appliance form and $7,800 for the physical appliance.

At the end of April, HyTrust plans to introduce what it calls the HyTrust Communities version as a free version for small to midsize businesses with as many as three ESX hosts.

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