Fix the Security Audits in vRealize Operations Manager

Security Shield(I’m grumpy this week and I’m giving myself permission to return to my blogging roots and complain about stuff. Deal with it.)

Several bloggers have written about the Runecast Analyzer lately. I was crazy bored in a meeting the other day so instead of stabbing myself with my pen to see if I still feel things I decided to go check out their website. My interest piqued when I saw the screen shot where they show security hardening guideline compliance, as well as compliance with the DISA STIG for ESX 6. I do a lot of that crap nowadays.

You know what my first thought was about the Runecast product, though? It was “This is what vRealize Operations Manager (vROPS) could have been, especially the Security Hardening Guide alerts.” When it debuted, the vROPS security audit policies showed immense amounts of promise. They weren’t developed beyond that, though, and now someone is eating VMware’s lunch, to the dismay of all of us who actually own licenses for vROPS.

As someone who has to be deeply concerned with compliance regulations on virtualization systems, who is also an actual customer (not a partner, not a developer, not an analyst), here’s what I want improved with the vROPS security audit alerts:

Instead of a single, outdated, one-size-fits-nothing policy we need policies matching the current guidance for each supported version of ESXi, at each level (1, 2, and 3). I will stack up the policies to meet the level I need for a particular set of objects.

We need separate policies to match the guidance for virtual machines. Rolling the ESXi guidance up with the VM guidance is a mess. Separate them.

We need default actions to fix any deficiencies found. Just like you can resize a VM you should be able to disable the MOB on an ESXi host if it’s found to be enabled, fix the security on a virtual switch, or set a VM configuration flag. It’d be particularly sweet if it could just remediate a whole ESXi host or VM in one pass. After all, the product is “Operations Manager” and security is a massive part of operations, so make it able to manage that stuff. As my six-year-old has taught her two-year-old brother, “DUH.”

We need a policy for the DISA STIG (after 16 months we also need a prototype DISA STIG for ESXi 6.5, but that’s a whole other complaint). Lots of people use — and even more people should use — the STIG to harden their installations, and it’d be grand if life were easier for us people in federal regulation hell. The whole reason we spend gobs of money on these tools is to try to make things easier, but there’s always some catch. Hence this post.

The default vROPS policies should not (I repeat: NOT) complain about the new secure defaults in vSphere 6.5 being unset. It also shouldn’t complain about VMware Workstation parameters, or any other inane unexposed features it checks for. Just tell me if & when something is actually set wrong.

Last, the policies must be kept up to date. Maybe the vROPS team could just use a VPN service and secretly check the VMware Security web site from time to time (perhaps before a  vROPS update?) so they don’t have to actually talk to the weird Security folks. Whatever it is, just get it done, and don’t give me bullcrap excuses about competing with other parts of the ecosystem. vROPS was in this space first, fix it up and make it right for your customers.

Thank you. Sorry if you’re a vROPS person and offended, but hey, I said I’m grumpy this week, and I tried to be constructive. Fix your stuff. If you’re a fellow vROPS customer and agree with me, well, there’s nothing stopping you from sending this to your account team as a request for enhancement.

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2 thoughts on “Fix the Security Audits in vRealize Operations Manager”

  1. We need stuff that works. I sometimes feel like marketing slides are 2+ years ahead of actual product capabilities and usefulness. More cycles are spent babysitting, tweaking, upgrading, and troubleshooting than what we would have spent doing business without it. The age old “more management tools” burden.

    • Exactly. People need to remember that management tools are apps and need all the same care and feeding as any other application. Unlike other business apps they’re 100% overhead, though — negative ROI.

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