NAI crafts security appliance

Network Associates Inc. last week released its E-ppliance architecture, a series of network security solutions using a combination of hardware, software and services from several different companies.

Network Associates partnered with Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. to offer the basic E-ppliance products, the WebShield 100 and 300. The products will be available on Sun servers using the Solaris Unix operating system and HP servers using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT operating system.

Both E-ppliances provide the software in a single, remotely managed box that will handle the security for the network. Each product is configured and tested by Network Associates, Sun and HP to take into account the individual needs of each user's environment.

The WebShield 100, aimed at small and midsize organizations or groups with basic security needs, comes with Network Associates' McAfee anti-virus software to scan incoming and outgoing network traffic. The WebShield 300 brings together three Network Associates products, the McAfee anti-virus software, the PGP virtual private network (VPN) and the Gauntlet Firewall.

The E-ppliance products will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing has not been set, but the companies said customers will save money by buying the bundled products. For example, WebShield 300 likely will cost about the same as a firewall, according to the companies.

Network Associates has been pitching this idea to customers for several months. In all cases, the reaction has been positive from organizations facing the problem of centrally managing different security products from different companies, said Zach Nelson, executive vice president of marketing and alliances at Network Associates.

"I think that [customers] will move quickly to these products," he said. "I believe this is the future of every security application that Network Associates offers."

Sun is a strong supporter of the networked appliance market, and the extension into the security arena is a natural one, said Anil Gadre, vice president and general manager of Solaris software at Sun. "I really think this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the direction the industry is going to take," he said.

In the past year, many smaller firms have started providing security appliances, mostly in the firewall and VPN areas, but Network Associates is really the first major security company to step into the appliance market, said Eric Hemmendinger, senior analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc.

"I don't want to say they threw their hat into the ring...they made a substantial commitment here," he said.

Network Associates offers more than the other security appliance vendors do, particularly the McAfee anti-virus and the Active Security integration and management offerings, Hemmendinger said.

"Other suppliers realize [anti-virus] is needed, but they have not added that feature," he said.

The Active Security features, when included in the E-ppliance products, will probably add to the appeal of Network Associates' offerings. The company introduced Active Security in April as a better way to integrate and manage Network Associates products. It also would make it easy to integrate E-ppliances, which cannot be done with most of the security appliances available now, Hemmendinger said.

The pre-configuration and testing is key because it makes it much easier for an agency to place the products in its network and in its policy structure with minimal changes, said James Ishikawa, director of product management for Network Associates' total network security group.

"Security is not a kind of thing that you can cookie-cutter, and you have to join the appliance to the organization's security policy," he said.

Network Associates announced a partnership with Frontier Communications to help provide the services, integration and, if necessary, outsourcing for organizations. Frontier already provides high-bandwidth Internet and network access services as well as the managed services for applications on the network.

Frontier is joining with Network Associates' global professional services group to provide managed security offerings built around the security company's products. Organizations can manage E-ppliances and other Network Associates products in-house, use Frontier's Network Operations Center or outsource the management to a team at Frontier and Network Associates, according to Frontier.

The Frontier partnership with Network Associates also will include all of the security company's stand-alone and integrated products. Frontier will use those products to offer security to all of its customers and users, said Brian Fink, vice president of products and systems at Frontier. "Security is a critical component of the Frontier services offering," he said.

Network Associates is looking to enterprise businesses to use E-ppliance products, but service providers, like Frontier, probably will offer the largest market, Hemmendinger said. Organizations will then turn to the service providers for managed and outsourced security solutions.

"It's going to be the service providers that actually buy these things and then supplying those services to their customers," he said.

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