RSA Gives VARs Down-Market Play With Small, Mid-sized Authentication Manager

The Bedford, Mass.-based security arm of EMC on Wednesday officially launched RSA Authentication Manager Express, an authentication tool aimed squarely at small and mid-sized organizations with up to 2,500 users.

Joe Gabriel, RSA's director of worldwide channel marketing, said in an interview that RSA Authentication Manager express takes elements from its enterprise-grade Authentication Manager product and RSA's consumer-focused authentication play and packages it for the midmarket, which is served by between 80 percent and 90 percent of RSA's channel globally.

Gabriel said security VARs are finding password-only protection inadequate for their customers, and passwords alone aren't an effective method for thwarting unwanted and unauthorized access. Authentication Manager Express is a risk-based and on-demand authentication system to provide secure access to data and business applications through SSL VPNs and online portals. It uses a risk engine that delivers behind-the-scenes protection of Web-based resources.

While users continue to use their username and password, security is kicked up a notch when the risk engine senses abnormal behavior and prompts users to answer personal challenge questions and/or enter an SMS- or e-mail-delivered one-time passcodes before access is allowed.

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According to RSA, the technology can be tailored specifically to a small or mid-sized business' resource constraints, risk tolerance and user profiles and it offers a layered approach that is mostly invisible to end users unless authentication is outside of established policy. Authentication Manager Express also integrates with leading SSL VPNs and Web services and features audit capabilities to track what users are accessing and prove compliance.

"The SMB is one of the largest, fastest growing markets for these technologies," said Karen Kiffney, RSA product marketing manager, adding that RSA Authentication Manager Express completes RSA's portfolio by including the lower end of the market.

For security VARs, Gabriel said, the new tools offers quick setup and easy deployment, eliminating many of the hurdles and inconveniences VARs encounter when deploying authentication solutions for customers.

Gabriel added that RSA will also leverage Authentication Manager Express as a recruitment tool to entice new VARs with existing security practices or looking to play a trusted advisor role around security.

"For existing partners, this is rolling into the existing channel program," he said, adding that RSA is also "looking for new partners to bring this product to market."

Gabriel said RSA Authentication Manager Express will be generally available through the channel sometime in the first quarter. Pricing is volume based. For example, a 10-user bundle, which includes the hardware, software and maintenance, lists for $4,000 and as the user numbers grow the package drops to about $40 per user.