Resellers Go Long On LAN Lockdown

Juniper Networks, Sunnyvale, Calif., this week is delivering on a promise made in May with the release of its network access control solution centered around its new Infranet Controller appliance. And Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif., last week launched phase two of its Network Admission Control (NAC) initiative, extending its network access control technology to its switches and routers and unveiling a NAC appliance.

“It&s coming up all over the place,” said Steve Fuller, president and CTO of NetWorks Group, a Juniper partner in Brighton, Mich. “Customers in lots of different verticals are now talking to us about these solutions.”

The moves by Juniper and Cisco are the latest in a flurry of activity in the nascent network access control space. Security giant Symantec, Cupertino, Calif., in August said it plans to acquire network access control vendor Sygate. And upstarts Vernier Networks, Mountain View, Calif., and ConSentry Networks, Milpitas, Calif., both recently launched new products and saw major infusions of venture capital. Even software king Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., is in the game, although its server-based Network Access Protection technology isn&t slated to ship until 2007.

Network access control products essentially enforce security by ensuring that all devices connected to a network are running the appropriate security solutions, are configured correctly and possess up-to-date patches.

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And while VARs have been evangelizing the technology for the past year or so, customers are switching to buying mode, solution providers said.

Robert McMillon, principal consultant for security at Forsythe Technology, a nationwide integrator in Skokie, Ill., said he expects significant opportunities in the network access control space next year. “We are having tangible customer interaction on this now that will turn into opportunities next year,” he said, noting that Forsythe is in the initial stages of rolling out a 50,000-seat network access control deployment.

Indeed, a recent Forrester study found that 39 percent of enterprises are in the early stages of rolling out network access control solutions.

While companies are not dropping their guard on protecting their networks from attacks from the outside, the growing mobile workforce and increasingly complex compliance regulations are forcing them to look inside as well, solution providers said.

Many companies hit with recent worm attacks were infected by mobile workers who picked up the worm on the road and unleashed it when they returned to the office and accessed the LAN directly. Also, the growing list of regulations regarding data compliance are forcing companies to track and log what they are doing to protect their data.

With all the activity in the space, a key role for VARs will be guiding their customers to the right solution, said Chris Thatcher, principal consultant at Dimension Data, Hauppauge, N.Y. “Customers are coming back to us now and asking what they can do today. The issue for us is helping them sort through all the choices.”