Cisco® Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) for Cisco Nexus® 1000V Series Switches is a virtual appliance that provides trusted access to secure virtualized data centers in enterprise and cloud provider environments while meeting the requirements of dynamic policy-based operations, mobility-transparent enforcement, and scale-out deployment for dense multitenancy. Cisco VSG offers IT departments the benefits of workload virtualization with the security of zone-based controls and activity monitoring, enhanced compliance with corporate security policies and industry regulations, and simplified security audits. Cisco VSG helps ensure that access to trust zones is controlled and monitored through established security policies.
Integrated with Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches and running Cisco NX-OS Software, Cisco VSG provides the features and benefits listed in Table 1.
Table 1. Features and Benefits
• Secure segmentation of virtualized data center virtual machines using granular, zone-based control and monitoring with context-aware security policies (based on virtual machine identities, custom attributes, and 5-tuple network parameters)
• Controls applied across organizational zones, lines of business (LoBs), and multitenant (scale-out) environments (Figure 1)
• Security policies organized into security profiles (templates)
• Context-based access logs generated with activity details at the network and virtual machine levels
• Strengthens regulatory compliance and simplifies audits
• Simplifies management and deployment across a large number of virtual machines and virtual security gateways
Dynamic (virtualization-aware) operation
• On-demand provisioning of security templates and trust zones during virtual machine instantiation
• Mobility-transparent enforcement and monitoring as live migration of virtual machines occur across different physical servers
Preserves security for the dynamic data center
• Administrative segregation across security and server teams
• Enhances collaboration
• Helps eliminate administrative errors
• Helps simplify security audits
• Zone-based firewall capabilities extended to virtual machines on VXLAN
Secures application workloads on VXLAN
Layer2 or Layer3 deployment
• Layer 2 and Layer 3 connectivity between Cisco VSG and Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM
Enables flexible Cisco VSG deployment
Virtual network data path (vPath) service chaining capability
• Participation in vPath service chain along with other networking services
Provides simplified deployment of Cisco VSG in the traffic path with other networking services
Figure 1. Trusted Zone-Based Access Control and Monitoring with Cisco VSG Across Data Center Segments,
Lines of Business, and Tenants
Overall, Cisco VSG provides the following benefits:
• Enhanced compliance with industry regulations
• Simplified audit processes in virtualized environments
• Reduced costs through providing security in a broader set of virtualized workloads
Cisco VSG is designed using advanced networking concepts such as control and data-path splitting to provide efficiency, availability, and high performance while securing virtualized environments. Operating in conjunction with the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series distributed virtual switches in the VMware vSphere hypervisor, Cisco VSG uses the vPath technology embedded in the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Virtual Ethernet Module (VEM), as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Cisco VSG Deployment Topology
Cisco vPath technology steers traffic, whether inbound or traveling from virtual machine to virtual machine, to the designated Cisco VSGs. A split-processing model is applied in which initial packet processing occurs in the Cisco VSG for policy evaluation and enforcement. Subsequent policy enforcement for packets is offloaded directly to vPath. vPath provides:
• Intelligent traffic steering: Flow classification and redirection to associated Cisco VSGs
• Fast path offload: Policy enforcement of flows offloaded by Cisco VSG to vPath
• Service chaining: Insertion of Cisco VSG along with other network services in the traffic path
vPath is designed for multitenancy, providing traffic steering and fast path offload on a per-tenant basis.
Together, the Cisco VSG and Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM provide the following deployment benefits:
• Efficient deployment:Each Cisco VSG can provide protection across multiple physical servers, eliminating the need to deploy one virtual appliance per physical server.
• High performance:By offloading enforcement to Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM vPath modules, Cisco VSG architecture boosts performance.
• Operational simplicity:Cisco VSG can be transparently inserted in one-arm mode without the need to create multiple switches or to temporarily migrate virtual machines to different switches or servers. Zone scaling is based on security profiles, not on virtual network interface cards (vNICs), which are limited for virtual appliances. These features simplify physical server upgrades without compromising security or incurring application outage.
• High availability:Cisco VSG can be deployed in an active-standby mode to help ensure a highly available operating environment, with vPath redirecting packets to the standby Cisco VSG if the active Cisco VSG becomes unavailable.
• Independent capacity planning:Cisco VSG can be placed on a dedicated server controlled by the security operations team so that appropriate computing capacity can be allocated to application workloads, capacity planning can occur independently across server and security teams, and operational segregation can be maintained across security, network, and server teams.
Cisco VSG allows IT departments to segment their data center and cloud environments with strong security boundaries. Multiple instances of Cisco VSG can secure entire data centers or divide lines of business or tenants, allowing large-scale deployments. Security segments are isolated, and traffic cannot cross segment boundaries. Cisco VSG can be deployed at the line-of-business or tenant level, at the virtual data center (vDC) level, or at the virtual application (vApp) level.
As virtual machines are instantiated for trust zones, their security profiles and zone memberships are assigned immediately through binding with the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series port profiles, as shown in Figure 2. A security profile contains context-aware rule sets that specify access policies for traffic entering and exiting each zone. In addition to virtual machine and network contexts, custom attributes provide a flexible and extensible way to define trust zones. Controls are applied to zone-to-zone traffic as well as to external area-to-zone (and zone-to-external area) traffic. Zone-based enforcement also can occur within a VLAN, as a VLAN often identifies a segment or tenant boundary. Cisco VSG evaluates access control rules and subsequently offloads enforcement to the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM vPath for performance acceleration. Enforcement can trigger permit or deny action and optional access logs. Cisco VSG also provides policy-based traffic monitoring capabilities with access logs.
The traffic steering intelligence of vPath offers an efficient deployment model in that a Cisco VSG can protect virtual machines in a zone spanning multiple hypervisors. Overlapping (private) IP address space can be allocated per line of business or tenant, an important consideration in multitenant cloud environments. Cisco VSG management and deployment of associated security policies are performed in the Cisco Virtual Network Management Center (VNMC), described later in this document.
Dynamic (Virtualization-Aware) Operation
Virtualization can be highly dynamic, with frequent add, delete, and change operations on virtual machines. Live migration of virtual machines occurs through manual or programmed VMware vMotion events. Figure 3 shows how a structured deployment such as the one in Figure 2 can change over time as a result of this dynamic virtual machine environment.
Cisco VSG operating in conjunction with the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series (and vPath) supports dynamic virtualization. Trust zones and associated security profiles per line of business or tenant are created with the Cisco VSG and the Cisco VNMC. Security profiles are bound to Cisco Nexus 1000V Series port profiles (authored on the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM) and published to VMware vCenter). When a new virtual machine is instantiated, the server administrator assigns the appropriate port profile to the virtual machine's virtual Ethernet port. The port and security profiles and the virtual machine's zone membership are immediately applied. A virtual machine can be repurposed simply by assigning different port and security profiles.
VMware vMotion events trigger movement of virtual machines across physical servers. The Cisco Nexus 1000V Series helps ensure that port and security profiles both follow the virtual machine. Security enforcement and monitoring remain in place regardless of VMware vMotion events.
Figure 3. Cisco VSG Provides Security Even in Dynamic Virtual Machine Environments, Including Virtual Machine Live Migration
The Cisco VSG solution offers a nondisruptive administration model, allowing IT security, network, and server teams to collaborate while helping ensure administrative segregation to meet compliance and audit requirements and reduce administrative errors. The Cisco VNMC and Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VSM deliver the nondisruptive administration model (Figure 4).
• Security administrators can author and manage security profiles as well as manage Cisco VSG instances; security profiles are referenced in Cisco Nexus 1000V Series port profiles.
• Network administrators can author and manage port profiles as well as manage Cisco Nexus 1000V Series distributed virtual switches. Port profiles are referenced in VMware vCenter through the programmatic interface of the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VSM.
• Server administrators can select the appropriate port profile in VMware vCenter when instantiating a virtual machine.
Additionally, third-party management and orchestration tools can interact programmatically, through XML APIs, with Cisco VNMC for automated management and provisioning of Cisco VSG.
Figure 4. Cisco VNMC Administration Model for Managing Cisco VSG and Associated Security Profiles
To support different use cases across lines of business or tenants, vDCs, and vApps, Cisco VSG provides a highly flexible and simple deployment model. Each line of business or tenant can include multiple virtual machine zones, vDCs, and vApps. A vDC can also contain multiple virtual machine zones and vApps. Figure 5 illustrates several such deployment scenarios. For example, a line-of-business or tenant Cisco VSG can be deployed to protect the virtual machine zones, vDCs, and vApps of segment 1; for segment 2, Cisco VSG can be deployed on a per-vDC basis; and for segment 3 Cisco VSG can be deployed on a per-vApp basis.
Figure 5. Deployment Options with Cisco VSG
Software Packaging and Installation
Table 2 describes how to obtain the software for Cisco VSG.
Table 2. Software Packaging and Installation
Open Virtualization Format (OVF)
• Downloadable OVF virtual appliance in the form of a single file with the.ova extension
• Deployed with OVF templates and packages
• Downloadable ISO file that can be mounted on a virtual machine
• Cisco Nexus 1010: ISO file deployable as a virtual service blade (VSB) on Cisco Nexus 1010 or 1010-X Virtual Services Appliance
• Cisco Nexus 1010 Release: 4.2(1)SP1(3) or later
• Cisco VSG Release: 4.2(1)VSG1(2) or later
Solution Deployment Requirements
To secure virtualized environments using Cisco VSG, the products listed in Table 3 need to be deployed.
Table 3. Cisco VSG Deployment Requirements
Cisco Virtual Security Gateway
Cisco VSG as a virtual appliance
• 1 virtual CPU or 2 virtual CPUs at 1.5 GHz
• RAM: 2 GB
• Hard disk: 3 GB
• Network interfaces: 3
• Data interface (VSG-to-VEM)
• Management interface
• High-availability interface
Cisco VSG as a service blade on Cisco Nexus 1010 or 1010-X
• Cisco Nexus 1010 Release: 4.2(1)SP1(3) or later
• Cisco VSG Release: 4.2(1)VSG1(2) or later, ISO format only
Hypervisor and hypervisor management
• VMware vSphere Releases 4.0.1, 4.0.2, 4.1.0, 5.0, and 5.1 with VMware ESX or ESXi
• VMware vCenter Releases 4.0.1, 4.0.2, 4.1.0, 5.0, and 5.1
Distributed virtual switch
Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Software Release 4.2(1)SV1(4) or later, including:
• Virtual supervisor module (deployed as a virtual appliance or hosted on the Cisco Nexus 1010 Virtual Services Appliance)
• Virtual Ethernet module (embedded in the VMware vSphere ESX or ESXi hypervisor)
Cisco Virtual Network Management Center (deployed as a virtual appliance)
Table 4 describes the product features available in Cisco VSG.
Table 4. Cisco VSG Features
• Zone definition: Based on IP addresses, custom attributes, and virtual machine attributes
• Zone membership: Virtual machine can belong to multiple zones
Security policies and security profiles
• Policy model: Consists of rules, conditions, and actions
• Policy enforcement: Intrazone, zone to zone, and external area to zone
• Admissible attributes (in conditions)
• Network attributes: Source IP address, destination IP address, source port, destination port, and protocol
• Custom attributes: User defined
• Virtual machine attributes: Obtained through VMware vCenter
• Operators supported (in conditions)
• Policy actions: Permit, drop, and log
• Policy logging through syslog
• Security profile: Template-based authoring and management through Cisco VNMC; Cisco VNMC integration with VMware vCenter for virtual machine attributes and with Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VSM port profile for dynamic provisioning
Policy decisions and enforcement
• Policy decisions in Cisco VSG
• Policy enforcement in Cisco VSG or offloaded to vPath (embedded in the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM)
• Stateful packet inspection support (for example, FTP)
• IEEE 802.1Q VLAN encapsulation
• Traffic types: Unicast, broadcast, multicast, TCP, and User Datagram Protocol (UDP)
• Jumbo frame support (up to 9216 bytes)
• VXLAN aware: Cisco VSG Release 4.2(1)VSG1(3) or later and Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Release 4.2(1)SV1(5) or later
• Cisco vPath 2.0 support
• Participation in vPath service chain along with other network services
• Deployment of one or more Cisco VSGs per segment or tenant
• Overlapping (private) IP address space on a per-segment or per-tenant basis
Active-standby operation when deployed as a high-availability pair
• Transparent insertion in Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switch environment using one-arm mode (traffic steered to Cisco VSG by Cisco Nexus 1000V Series VEM vPath module)
• Flexible deployment options with both Layer 2 and Layer 3 connectivity between Cisco Nexus 1000V VEM and Cisco VSG; Layer 3 deployment option available in Cisco VSG Release 4.2(1)VSG1(3.1) or later and Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Release 4.2(1)SV1(5.1) or later
Cisco NX-OS: Data-center-class operating system built with modularity, resiliency, and serviceability at its foundation
Cisco VSG is licensed based on the number of physical server CPU sockets that are being protected. Each protected CPU also requires a Cisco Nexus 1000V Series license. For Cisco VSG pricing and license information, check the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series pricing page.
Cisco Software Application Support plus Upgrades (SASU) is a comprehensive support service that helps you maintain and enhance the availability, security, and performance of your business-critical applications. Cisco SASU includes the following resources:
• Software updates and upgrades: The Cisco SASU service provides timely, uninterrupted access to software updates and upgrades to help you keep existing systems stable and network release levels current. Update releases, including major upgrade releases that may include significant architectural changes and new capabilities for your licensed feature set, are available by software download from Cisco.com or by CD-ROM shipment.
• Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC): Cisco TAC engineers provide accurate, rapid diagnosis and resolution of software application problems to help you reduce outages and performance degradation. These specialized software application experts are trained to support the Cisco VSG for Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches. Their expertise is available to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by telephone, fax, email, or the Internet.
• Online support: Cisco SASU provides access to a wide range of online tools and communities to help you resolve problems quickly, support business continuity, and improve competitiveness.