Case studies

Case studies

Previously we discussed typical OpenStack management interfaces and associated backplane issues. We will now approach these issues by returning to the Alice and Bob case studies (See Introduction to case studies) where Alice is deploying a government cloud and Bob is deploying a public cloud each with different security requirements. In this section, we will look into how both Alice and Bob will address:

  • Cloud administration
  • Self service
  • Data replication and recovery
  • SLA and security monitoring

Alice’s private cloud

Alice’s cloud has very strict requirements around management and interfaces. She builds an SVN repository and uploads the baseline configuration files there for service teams to modify and deploy through tool automation. User and group accounts for each service are created with the principle of least privilege in mind. Service teams also have their roles defined, and are given or denied access as well. For example, the development team is not given production access, however an escalation path is outlined through Alice’s Security Operations Center where privileges can be added and audited during issues. Additionally, an update and patching policy is created, with tiered criticalities for normal updates compared to security or other critical fixes that may be more time sensitive.

For out-of-band management Alice has included a BMC/IPMI version specification for the ‘Request for Pricing’ (RFP) which she submits to approved hardware vendors for quotes and system specifications. This includes ensuring communication with the out-of-band management interface can be encrypted with TLS for both textual and GUI access. She ensures that a network intrusion detection system (NIDS) will be monitoring the management security domain that the IPMI traffic will be using. Depending on usage, which may vary throughout the year, Alice may set the NIDS to do passive anomaly detection so that packets are not missed by the NIDS while it is processing.

Alice also creates ‘golden images’ of various systems that will be used to quickly spin up a new instance. These golden images already have the service accounts, configuration details, logging, and other policies set. One is built for each service type that may be needed, such as a golden image for API endpoints, hypervisors, network devices, message queue instances, and any other devices that are commonly used or may need to be recreated quickly. She then ensures a process exists for updating golden images on a regular schedule as well as reporting package versions for each image, as well as what will be used by the Ansible configuration management tool, and exporting that data into the CMDB automatically.

Bob’s public cloud

As a public cloud provider, Bob is concerned with both the continuous availability of management interfaces and the security of transactions to the management interfaces. To that end Bob implements multiple redundant OpenStack API endpoints for the services his cloud will run. Additionally on the public network Bob uses TLS to encrypt all transactions between his customers and his cloud interfaces. To isolate his cloud operations Bob has physically isolated his management, instance migration, and storage networks.

To ease scaling and reduce management overhead Bob implements a configuration management system. For customer data assurances, Bob offers a backup as a service product as requirements will vary between customers. Finally, Bob does not provide a “baremetal” or the ability to schedule an entire node, so to reduce management overhead and increase operational efficiency Bob does not implement any node boot time security.

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