ForeScout is using its latest product launch to arm its VARs to go head to head with rival Cisco Systems.

The NAC (network access control) vendor unveiled its CounterACT Release 6.2 Oct. 1 and claimed the enhanced feature set will allow solution providers to deploy NAC on any infrastructure, avoiding a rip-and-replace scenario.

“Our partners can now walk into any end user, work out what network security problems they have and then deploy the NAC system,” said Ray Wizbowski, vice president of marketing at ForeScout. “It is entirely flexible; Cisco is the antithesis of flexible, and this is where our partners will have the advantage. At the moment every time our partners go up against Cisco in a competitive situation, we win.”

CounterACT now includes support for VOIP (voice over IP) devices, allowing policy enforcement and endpoint identification, without dropping any calls or connections. Also, script-based remediation will allow solution providers to add more services to a sale, Wizbowski said.

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“Partners can expect to add around 30 to 35 percent services on top of a sale. Resellers that offer professional services can use the scripting engine to tailor the product and help the customer decide on its security policies,” he said.

Wizbowski said other new features include session-specific enforcement that allows certain policies to be enforced at certain times or sessions, ARP spoofing detection, open-port hardening, and more flexibility through a dissolvable client option.

“We built this technology to work with the channel; if the channel can’t sell NAC, then the technology itself won’t take off. At the moment the NAC market is centered at the large-enterprise space, and for this to trickle down into the SME [small and midsize enterprise] we need to get the channel to be the delivery vehicle.

“Cisco is out there and is good at disseminating the NAC message, but it has had some challenges delivering its technology—it is about 12 to 18 months behind the curve. This release of CounterACT is a massive jump in terms of what it does for our channel in a competitive situation with Cisco VARs.”

“CounterACT helps to highlight some of the weaknesses in Cisco’s technology,” said Graeme Smee, managing director of ForeScout’s U.K.-based distributor Cohort Technology. “The VOIP and dissolvable client features will be the main selling points for the channel because they are real end-user pain points right now.”

However, Keith Humpreys, an analyst at U.K.-based research firm EuroLAN, said, “Companies buy Cisco because they know it. They know Cisco may not be leading edge but that it will get there, and they accept that.

“The opportunity for ForeScout is not to take on Cisco, but go for the firms that want to be leading edge and need NAC now.”