NAC Vendor ConSentry Shuts Its Doors

One former ConSentry partner said that the company's rapid demise didn't come as a surprise. "We saw the handwriting on the wall," said Pat Grillo, CEO of Atrion Communications Resources, based in Warwick, R.I., adding that his company chose to cut ties with the NAC vendor last year.

ConSentry launched its business in 2003 selling NAC gear. The company's offerings later evolved into what it called "intelligent switches," which touted greater user visibility into the LAN network, including MAC, IP addresses, applications, as well as filename and URL.

ConSentry's NAC products also touted capabilities that "learned" users and their roles, understood applications and tracked the servers that users were trying to reach, subsequently using the gathered "intelligence" to apply appropriate policies to every user on the network.

However, partners say that ConSentry's repositioned marketing message, which underscored the new high-end functionality to its switches, was ultimately superseded by more established vendors Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper and Enterasys, which also incorporated NAC into their network appliances.

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Since its inception six years ago, the company received tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding from Accel Partners, DAG Ventures, INVESCO Private Capital and Translink Capital.

ConSentry's product repositioning in an effort to stay competitive were reflective of an increasingly nebulous definition of NAC, which ultimately served to hurt the NAC industry, partners said.

"In general NAC was having its problems," Grillo said. "ConSentry [had] a NAC device, now they're calling it an intelligent switch -- I just don't think it was resonating. They're selling the same thing but trying to call it something else." Meanwhile, the prolonged global recession has taken its toll on single NAC vendors and appears to be reshaping the industry.

Over the past year, several NAC vendors have taken some hits after being absorbed following an acquisition or folding operations entirely. NAC vendor Mirage Networks was swallowed up by managed service provider Trustwave, which incorporated a managed NAC offering into its services portfolio. Citrix Systems purchased assets of Caymas Systems, after the NAC vendor went out of business, along with Lockdown Networks, which also closed up shop.

Partners speculated that like others, ConSentry's demise was perhaps indicative of a greater downward spiral for NAC as a whole.

However, where the NAC industry will go or how it will further evolve remains to be determined, Grillo said.

"It's a combination of things. NAC took a lot longer to get going than expected. And everyone had a different flavor of NAC," Grillo said. "It's not a ConSentry problem, it's a NAC problem."