ForeScout Launches NAC-As-A-Service

The CounterACT platform, for private or hybrid cloud environments, allows mid-tier and large companies and government organizations to extend and automate policy-based controls without a significant upfront investment, said Scott Gordon, vice president of worldwide marketing at Cupertino, Calif.-based ForeScout.

"There's a resurgence in NAC because corporations are facing essentially an influx of personal and mobile devices hitting the network that are not corporate controlled or managed. And there's a Lot of risks," Gordon said. "There's also the issue of mobile security and greater accessibility, how you lock down the infrastructure."

Many companies are putting more emphasis on endpoint compliance and have policies that certain software can't be used on a device, or certain software has to be present on a device, Gordon said. But the trend of more bring-your-own-technology has companies scrambling to regain more network access control, he said.

"Companies can make policies but how do they have controls to enforce that policy. Our solution identifies all devices touching the network, including personal and mobile. We can identify software that's on a system or not on a system, or whether the user is contractor or a guest or an employee. You can allow a policy to grant access, limit it or deny it. Ideally, you want that with as little IT intervention as possible," Gordon said.

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In designing NAC-as-a-service, ForeScout wanted a solution that was non-disruptive, something without a lot of moving parts, Gordon said. "We wanted something highly interoperable for two reasons. One, if it's not, there's a lot of changes that need to go on at a prospect's site. Two, the market would be limited to sites where you are able to take your service," he said.

ForeScout had worked with a small handful of partners to deliver the solution as a service on an ad-hoc basis, but felt there was enough demand to formalize it for broad use. Service providers can charge customers on pay per use model, or on a monthly basis, Gordon said.

"There's a big trend that customers want to move from cap-x to op-x. We packaged our virtual appliance in a way that allows the service provider to resell and support a customer as a hosted app or as a managed service with on-demand scalability, all as an integrated solution," Gordon said. "So part or all the product can be hosted or as customer on-premise equipment. The management part of the product also exists on premise with the MSP remoting in or at the MSP's site."

Robert Ayoub, global program director at research firm Frost & Sullivan’s information and communications technology practice, said moving NAC to an as-a-service model will benefit MSPs and their customers.

"One thing we've seen over the years and one of the core challenge of NAC is it's a lot of work to put it in place. A lot of companies have shied away from NAC because of the overhead required," Ayoub said. "When ForeScout announced NAC-as-a-service, we see where that fills some of the challenges for companies that need access control, polices in place but have been scared about what it takes to put NAC in place. The service model fits very well."