Tech Field Day 15 Preview: Skyport Systems

Next, up on our Tech Field Day 15 (TFD15) previews is Skyport Systems. Skyport is another veteran TFD presenter. Skyport presented at Network Field Day 11. I don’t know if that’s an example of the lines between software-defined networking and computing blurring or a shift in messaging. After all, Cisco, who is still very much a networking company, will present at TFD15. However, the premise of Skyport is that they build HCI on the concept of zero-trust.

As a reminder, Tech Field Day is an independent influencer event sponsored by 7 to 8 companies. Stephen Foskett flies in 12-delegates to listen to the presenters discuss the business and technical details of their product and services. It’s a great opportunity to deep dive into the technology. Outside of travel, meals and vendor swag, delegates are not compensated for the event or are required to write about the event or companies. Obviously, it makes sense to do so when appropriate.

We’ve heard the term zero-trust before. VMware has used it to describe the micro-segmentation that’s done using NSX. The idea in network micro-segmentation assumes no trust between systems based on location within the physical or logical network. Skyport Systems takes the concept to the extreme. In Skyports architecture, the network, application, computing, and user have no shared level of trust, other than zero-trust.

According to the video on the webpage, I assume Skyport enables new applications to be built using this zero-trust approach. Of course, if we could go back and re-write all applications and infrastructure we may choose to take a zero-trust approach. Skyport offers a bridge between the existing model of application development and their proposed future state.

The vision starts with their hyperconverged platform. By controlling the infrastructure, Skyport creates a wrapper to encapsulate existing applications. Once a legacy application installs on a Skyport infrastructure, the system offers the controls to improve security by adding features such as TLS to applications lacking the infrastructure for TLS.

On paper, this all sounds great. I can’t help but pause. Much of the value proposition of Skyport is the trust Skyport needs to create between their organization and a customer’s IT operations team. Zero-trust is a disruptive approach. Solutions such as NSX and Skyport may ease some of that disruption, but it doesn’t change the nature of the problem.

I quickly see challenges such as what does it mean to embrace Skyport as an infrastructure? As I understand the solution pre-briefing, it is a hardware-based approach. I must use Skyport infrastructure as the idea is Skyport’s management layer doesn’t trust an HPE Gen10 server (the most secure server in the world according to HPE). If I have a major investment in HPE today, what does that mean for operations? If I’ve invested hundreds of thousands or millions into Nutanix and that ecosystem, how do I continue to leverage that investment?

What about the hypervisor layer or integration with the public cloud? What about applications such as SAP HANA that don’t offer support for HCI?

There are many questions. I’m looking forward to asking Skyport these critical questions during TFD15.