Intelligent Choice at Your Fingertips: How to Discern the Best in Server Security

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We live in a world of seemingly endless choices when it comes to which brand of t-shirt to buy, what to eat for dinner, or which route to take as you commute to work. According to psychologists, adults make an average of 70 conscious decisions each day, with unconscious decisions numbering in the thousands. It can quickly become overwhelming. And those everyday decisions are commonplace, even mundane! For IT decision-makers tasked with keeping the modern data center operational and secure, what may at first seem like a simple decision quickly takes on monumental significance.

Consider the decision of which hardware vendor to buy from when implementing a server refresh or adding server capacity to the data center. Business leaders push for increasing service levels from IT, but often without a proportional increase in resources.[1] The contradiction leads to pressure on IT decision-makers, forcing them to make tough purchasing choices. The decision to choose a hardware provider versus a hardware partner has vast implications when it comes to building a secure data center. It cannot be taken lightly.

Taking a cheap approach to hardware may significantly increase the total cost of ownership. Cheap hardware often requires earlier replacement and lacks scalability. Most importantly, white box hardware providers don’t take responsibility for firmware and hardware security on the server, leaving the business more vulnerable to malicious attacks. Dell EMC and Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) provide guidance to discerning between a hardware partner (i.e. security leader) and a hardware provider (i.e. security laggard) in two recent white papers on hardware/firmware security. Here’s your quick guide – via infographic – on how to tell the difference.

Dell EMC is a leader when it comes to hardware and firmware security. PowerEdge servers are embedded with integrated firmware and hardware security features like the dual silicon root of trust, BIOS protection and recovery, and hardware intrusion detection. If you go with a server provider who doesn’t offer hardware and firmware security, you may be left incurring unforeseen costs to integrate those protections after the fact. According to EMA, “It is much more difficult to address server security after deployment and implementation. Sever security should be carefully considered from the initial planning phase.”

If you’re unsure how to figure out which server vendors are leading when it comes to security, Dell EMC’s white paper “End-to-end Server Security: The IT Leader’s Guide” is an excellent resource. The paper provides a short list of four questions you can ask each server vendor when making the crucial decision of whom to buy from. EMA also provides perspective in their white paper, going as far as listing examples of companies they consider “hardware providers.”

The server purchase decision is business-critical, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Using hardware and firmware security as a driving factor can make your decision simpler and save money and hassle over the long term. Guidance from trusted industry leaders should inform your decision. Even if you don’t choose PowerEdge servers, you can choose to be an informed consumer. The white papers linked below are an excellent starting point.

Server Security Resources:

[1] EMA Security WP

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