NAC: Not So Fast

By Herman Mehling  |  Print this article Print

Network Access Control may have come a long way since inception, but much opportunity for solution providers remains.

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The challenge
With more than 30 vendors in the NAC space, VARs are not short on choice. However, choosing the right vendor or vendors can be tricky, since there are so many variables.
Atrion, for example, works with Bradford Networks and Cisco—for different reasons. Hebert said Cisco is a perfect fit for customers with existing Cisco networking equipment, and besides, the Cisco brand carries significant weight with many clients and prospects.

"Cisco provides a single-vendor solution for networking, which is attractive to a lot of companies," said Hebert. "Working with Cisco products brings in more service and support work for my company."

But, given his choice, Hebert said he prefers to sell Bradford Networks’ products—NAC Director and Campus Manager—because the technology is superior to Cisco’s, the margins are much better, and Bradford delivers peerless technical support. "The margins on the Bradford products are double what we make on the Cisco NAC," he said.

Hebert said Bradford’s support people are always available to provide Atrion with knowledgeable advice. "Ninety percent of the people I deal with at Bradford have been there about eight years," said Hebert.

For M&S Technologies, robust profit margins made Cisco rivals ConSentry and
Juniper irresistible, said Miller. In addition, Miller said he also was impressed by the simplicity of each vendor’s technology as well as its marketing and technical support.

The Future of NAC
As new devices—PC-based and non-PC-based—continually join networks, the future of NAC will almost certainly revolve around how much intelligence vendors can add to their products, said Cisco’s Don.

"The market will need to do a better job of detecting and provisioning non-PC-based devices such as HVAC machines and others that don’t have an operating system," Don said.

IDC’s Pintal agreed that more intelligence is needed. "End-user companies are looking for more added value and functionality in NAC," said Pintal.

"They want it to do more than merely detect devices. They want NAC to help them know what devices are doing, when they are doing it and how." Pintal said companies are specifically looking for NAC to deliver identity management, application-level authorization, patch management and compliance reporting.



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