New virtual server options from Amazon Web Services (AWS) can handle bigger memory, processing, networking, and database workloads than ever before.

Running on Intel’s Xeon E5-2676 v3 Haswell processors, which operate at a base speed of 2.4 GHz and turbo speeds as high as 3.0GHz, the five new M4 EC2 instances are a large, general-purpose instances. They range in size from 8.6GB of system memory and two virtual CPUs to 40 virtual CPUs with 172GB of system memory. M4 prices range from $0.126 per hour to $2.52 per hour. Amazon cut its prices for M3 and C4 instances by 5 percent.

Although the M4 instances are designed to work with Elastic Block Store (EBS), EBS isn’t included in the price tag. When integrated with EBS, however, M4 allocates dedicated bandwidth to EBS and Enhanced Networking. This dedicated capacity enables throughputs of up to 4Gbps, depending on the instance size.

The company also released new t2.large instances, which offer baseline, low-cost EC2 instances with burstable capacity. In addition to per hour usage pricing,  the AWS pricing system for t2.large instances allows businesses to accumulate CPU credits during slow periods. When small databases, development environments, Web servers, and application servers need added bursts, businesses can tap into their CPU credits to pay for bursting capability. The public cloud giant also announces next-gen Dense Storage instances, designed specifically to run Amazon’s Redshift data warehouse service.

Keeping Virtual Servers Safe

Amazon’s new instance releases are in response to increased demand for virtualization services. Although many express concern about cloud security, particularly in a public cloud environment, virtualization technologies are quite safe with the right virtualization server security options.

Virtualization technology gets more out of physical servers by partitioning multiple servers on a single machine. The technology itself isn’t unsafe, but the added layers of security management increase the likelihood of human error. Also, if an attacker compromises a single physical machine hosting multiple virtual machines, the attack could have a larger impact.

Public cloud providers like AWS have the capacity and skillsets within their datacenters to manage both virtual and physical security. Smaller cloud services providers, however, don’t always have the security expertise and failover options available within a large company. NIST offers several principles for safeguarding virtualization solutions. Without all of these four elements, virtual technologies can be vulnerable to attack.

Start With Security

From the beginning stages of datacenter design, security should be included in the plan. To go back and secure a datacenter later can become complex and costly. The security plan for individual VMs should be in place before the installation, deployment, and configuration of any virtual machine. In addition to taking preventive measures, managed services providers should decommission abandoned VMs and disable unused virtual components.

Hypervisor Security

Hypervisor security involves many of the same steps everyday PC users take to secure their operating systems. The cloud services provider should install patches and updates immediately as well as monitoring interactions between guest operating systems and the security of individual operating systems.

Security for all VM Components

Virtual solutions require more than just hypervisor security. The host operating system, guest operating systems running on the machine, applications, and storage must also be secure, as should the datacenters network.

Protect Administrator Credentials

Administrators control a virtual server’s most important functions, including launching operating systems, spinning up guest operating system images. Without strong passwords, granular access policies, and other vital security precautions, admin privileges could easily fall into the wrong hands.

How Much Do You Know About Security?

AWS requires a lot of independent knowledge about cloud computing. It’s incredibly flexible when you know how to customize your virtual setup. If you don’t have the IT skills to manage a network of virtual machines, you might feel overwhelmed by configuring and maintaining your AWS cloud.

Managed AWS hosting can ensure that someone’s always monitoring not only your virtual security but also your cloud performance. With managed hosting, someone takes charge of your capacity needs, including compute, network, and storage, and ensures that your VMs operate with maximum uptime.

AWS has the highest dependability of the top three public cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. You can be confident that Amazon keeps its datacenters secure. Just remember: Without managed hosting in place, virtualization security is your job, not Amazon’s.