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HP Blade Center in DMZ

Posted on 2013-01-16
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Last Modified: 2013-01-25
Experts,

I need opinions. We would like to stand up a Blade Center in our DMZ. We would like the management connections run to our main network so we can manage the frame itself. The VCs for the blades will follow the traditional set up of a DMZ. they will be run through the firewalls. The blades are stateless. All data is stored on a SAN.

So I'm in a discussion with my network people. They feel that since the chassis lives in the DMZ, all connections to the chassis should stop there and it should be physically cut off from the network.

My position is that the management connections don't "expose" a security risk. Therefore, we would be fine running those connections outside the firewall.

I also know that you can't see nor move the data that lives on SAN via the management ports.

Is there anyone that is using a blade chassis in there DMZ that can shed some light on this?

I have to believe that we are not the only people using a blade chassis this way.

Thanks!
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Question by:punchie123
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giltjr earned 668 total points
ID: 38786810
I have never used HP blades, but I have used IBM and Dell.

Assuming that HP's setup is like IBM and Dell, the management interface can't  be used to route traffic between the it and the OS's running on the blades.  So as long as the management and OS's IP addresses are on separate subnets you are safe.

The management IP addresses give you access to manage the blade center and in most cases "RDP" type access to the the blades and OS's running on the blades.  That's it.  

And I really doubt that your DMZ is physically cut off from the network, otherwise you would never be able to access it.  My guess is that it is firewalled off.  Putting your management interface on the internal network is safer than allowing say RDP or VNC through the firewall to you can have access to the servers to manage them.
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by:robocat
robocat earned 668 total points
ID: 38786819
We have such a setup. Management of the Blade center is entirely in the LAN.

We do have a virtualisation layer (VMWare) on the blades, which adds an extra layer between the phyiscal hardware and the OS. Chances of anything "escaping" from the virtual machines and accessing the LAN through the blade center management seem extremely slim.
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by:andyalder
ID: 38786888
I can understand their concern, data could be transferred via the iLOs virtual media from a blade in the DMZ to the LAN without going through the firewall.
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by:TimotiSt
TimotiSt earned 664 total points
ID: 38792595
It seems a bit unlikely for a malware to jump onto virtual media and come inside the LAN, but sure, possible in theory.
Do you have a 2 firewall setup, like
[internal LAN]---[firewall]---[DMZ]---[firewall]---[internet]
or one firewall with 3 interfaces (internal, DMZ and external)?

You can put the management outside the internal firewall for an added layer of protection, just don't put it outside the outer firewall, that would be a bad idea imho.

Tamas
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by:giltjr
ID: 38793089
Unless your firewall(s) are doing content/file scanning malware can get in copying files from anywhere.  

What should prevent the malware is anti-virus protection on the target, which should protect you even when using virtual media.
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by:robocat
ID: 38793406
During normal operations, virtual media will not be mounted, so this risc is fairly limited.
Using a virtualisation layer further lowers chances of this happening.
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Author Comment

by:punchie123
ID: 38819470
Guys,

Thanks for all of your answers.

@giltjr - The Dell and IBM chassis's are basically the same set up. The only ports that will be open through the firewall will be specific to the functionality of what's in the DMZ. We will have to go to our datacenter to manage anything in the DMZ.

@robocat - That's what I was trying to tell our security group. To me, it's akin to the management port on a firewall. Traffic passing thru the firewall can not somehow start passing data on the management connection. They're totally separate.

@TimotiSt - [internal LAN]---[firewall]---[DMZ]---[firewall]---[internet] is our set up.
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by:andyalder
ID: 38819773
Whatever you think about it your security group are right; until they have fully examined all implications of something being open it stays shut. You may say that you're not going to mount a virtual CD through iLO but they wouldn't be very good at their jobs if they took your word for it. You're probably thinking about a low security environment where all the threats are on the outside and forgetting that the biggest threat is the IT staff.

robocat got one thing right though in the mis-spelling or risk, there's lots of RISC chips in that chassis ;)
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