by Mike Koponen, Senior Director of Product Marketing and Strategic Alliances
The face of security operations has changed dramatically in 2020. The worldwide pandemic has caused cities, medical campuses, universities, transit systems, corporations – entities of all shapes, sizes, and industries — to re-evaluate how they do business, protect their people, customers and assets, and minimize risk to the business. The need for effective security has never been higher, but the rules have changed. People are working from home and human contact is being minimized, directly impacting security operations.
Making your complete suite of fully functional security applications, including video viewing clients, accessible remotely by anyone, anywhere, on any device is an ideal way to improve your security posture in the current environment. Enabling your SOC to be “virtual” or “virtualized” allows security teams to perform their normal duties from any location, either at home, another office location, or on-site at an incident location. Security personnel can securely monitor video feeds and manage access control from a socially distanced location. Likewise, a first responder approaching the scene can be aware of all people and activity in the vicinity and have access to the same data that would be available to SOC personnel, increasing safety and effectiveness.
Here are the key advantages a virtualized SOC approach offers security professionals:
Make the Full Security Application Suite Available Remotely
Normally, users must be inside their SOC or in front of a dedicated workstation or desktop to access the suite of applications necessary for their role. The SOC becomes a single point of failure If those operators can’t be in the SOC or the facility or equipment are incapacitated. Mobile versions of some applications are available, such as VMS mobile viewing clients, but typically sacrifice functionality. In addition, having multiple disparate mobile apps doesn’t replicate the complete, integrated setup the user sees at their normal workstation or desktop.
A virtual SOC replicates the full security application suite, including video surveillance, access control, audio, alarm, incident management and other security applications, normally found on the SOC desktop or workstation and makes these applications available on a remote device, such as a laptop, thin client, tablet, or smartphone. The security operator can then perform their normal job at a remote location, outside the physical SOC. This ensures full security operations even when personnel can’t get to the SOC or the SOC is offline for any reason.
Reduce Cost of Ownership
Beyond the upfront costs of physical workstations and desktops — some of which are typically expensive, graphics-intensive platforms — the time and expense required to keep the individual operating systems and software up-to-date and maintain the hardware impacts productivity. With a virtual SOC, there is only one central system to update and maintain, reducing ongoing operational and management expenses. New applications can be deployed and existing application issues resolved remotely, providing significant flexibility for situations when the administrator can’t reach the SOC or is traveling.
A virtual SOC architecture is also more resilient and fault tolerant than standalone workstations or desktops. In the event a workstation goes down, the applications hosted by it are down unless a redundant (and expensive) workstation is maintained and mechanisms are in place to bring the redundant spare online quickly. A virtual SOC architected for high availability can continue seamlessly despite a hard disk or other component failure, keeping applications online.
With a virtual SOC, streaming video can be viewed on less expensive, more reliable, and longer lasting thin clients. Thin clients also offer protection against the use of unauthorized software or the introduction of viruses. A virtual SOC can be enabled with intelligent monitoring and analytics for predictive health monitoring of the SOC infrastructure, identifying failures and scheduling repairs before they occur.
Secure Valuable Data
In a SOC, sensitive data including video, facilities layouts, and security systems resides on the workstation, making it susceptible to breaches and data theft. There are innumerable examples of video ending up in the wrong hands — no one wants to see sensitive video shared with the entire world! With a virtual SOC environment, all data is protected and secured in a central system, protected by access rights. The virtual clients on the remote devices are also secured and any data sent to them is fully encrypted.
A Virtual SOC Solution
Here at Pivot3, we have a fully integrated, validated and sized VSOC solution consisting of our hyperconverged security software and appliance that combines virtualized servers and storage together into one platform optimized for storing video and hosting multiple security applications. The solution includes NVIDIA graphics processing and VMware’s Horizon VDI (virtual desktop) software. This powerful combination enables us to leverage industry-leading infrastructure, virtualization, and graphics processing and apply them to delivering a solution optimized for a SOC environment.
All of the capabilities I’ve discussed come together to provide a more flexible and future-proofed approach to security operations, eliminating your SOC as a single point of failure in your security operations. With greatly improved cost of ownership, security, remote access, and availability, a virtual SOC is worth investigating.