Trend Micro Friday unveiled an updated version of its Deep Security firewall/intrusion-protection system software for VMware's ESX server, adding a virtual appliance component at the hypervisor level to protect multiple virtual machines running on one physical server.

Previously, Deep Security was working solely within the virtual machine guest operating system as a "security wrapper around the VM," says Trend Micro Vice President Wael Mohamed. With Deep Security 7.0 now offered also as a virtual appliance platform that uses the VMware VMsafe application programming interface, IT managers can run the firewall/IPS at the hypervisor level, too.

"Customers are going to want to mix and match," Mohamed says. Users can manage both ways of deploying the Deep Security firewall/IPS with the Deep Security console or VMware's vCenter.  

Originally founded as a Canadian security start-up by Mohamed, Deep Security was acquired earlier this year by Trend Micro as part of its effort to broaden its data centre security strategy.

Gartner security analyst Neil MacDonald, speaking at a session last week at the Gartner Symposium IT/Expo about protecting VMs, made mention of Trend Micro as being known more as a traditional antimalware vendor. But he applauded Trend's step into the arena of virtual security appliances, which MacDonald argues are needed to offer enterprises more choices to protect their VM environments. He added Trend Micro could play a role in shaking things up to get more competition going and said, "I like it when the vendors have a free for all."

The release of Deep Security 7.0 as a virtual appliance platform lays the foundation for adding more security capabilities, such as antimalware capabilities, in future releases, according to Trend Micro.