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Twistlock Secures Docker Containers

But will it unleash enterprise adoption? 

An Israeli security firm has launched with new technology to secure Docker “containers,” which have become popular among application developers to create, test and deploy Linux applications. 

Docker automates deployment of applications inside software containers that do not need a Linux operating system but can utilize Linux running on the host system. That avoids the overhead of starting multiple virtual machines on a single host, as the older technology of virtual machines (VMs) requires. One result is that a Docker container can run on premise or in both public and private clouds. 

Newly funded Twistlock, with $2.5 million in seed funding, led by YL Ventures, has unveiled a security suite designed to give enterprises the visibility and control they need over their Docker-based applications. Twistlock, based in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, contends its container security enables enterprises to maximize the efficiency, portability and scalability of their containers, while maintaining end-to-end security. 

Twistlock is an early (maybe the first) entrant into what it has defined as Container Security with the promise of making containers safe for the enterprise.  But the real threat scenarios are for containerized applications are not yet clear.  As is often the case with technology, the benefits can be appreciated well ahead of the associated risks.  At the RSA 2015 security conference last month, we were curious as to why more attention has not been focused on containers, which have been one of the big IT stories of the year. Security specialists told us, “We have still not seen a documented exploit of containers.”   

Our research found concerns about isolation between containers (so that code within one container cannot affect other containers on the same host) in public cloud environments with shared tenancy on hosts. Vendors and customers tell us that imagined risks have not yet materialized, probably because early adoption of containers has been with Web-deployed applications, not within the enterprise. 

Twistlock, Docker and others are beginning to invest in making containerized applications enterprise-ready.  But currently enterprises are still enjoying the return on their investments in VMs. After investing heavily in convergence,  we are asking, how burning is the need to go beyond virtual machines  for hyper-convergence?  Even with these issues addressed, will enterprises adopt?  Enterprises are unlikely to abandon VMs, but many speculate that containers will be adopted as part of a DevOps strategy to develop and deploy new applications built out of microservices for industries, such as financial services, that prize speed.   

Data center adoption of new technologies is slow–it has taken a decade for virtualization to reach where it is today. The bigger picture is how to make open source enterprise-ready. Security, while necessary, itself isn’t a driving factor but it can be a barrier to enterprise adoption. Other elements, such as manageability for containers, are necessary for open source to take hold.  

The key questions right now are:  (1) What will it mean for containerized apps to be enterprise-ready?  (2) What will be the real security requirements and what are the real threat scenarios to containerized applications?   And (3) When will enterprises adopt containerized apps?

We are actively covering these questions as this market unfolds.