Nortel expands its NAC offerings

Nortel Wednesday is announcing a second offering in its family of NAC products, a software platform that runs only on virtual servers and is intended for deployment in heterogeneous networks.

Nortel Identity Engines Ignition Server and three ancillary NAC products round out a NAC lineup the vendor can sell to businesses that don't rely on a Nortel Ethernet infrastructure.

The company already has the Nortel Secure Network Access Switch (SNAS), an access-policy appliance that has 802.1X support -- a standard that is supported in heterogeneous environments -- but Nortel describes that support as basic. Most real-world deployments of SNAS use the proprietary Secure Switch Communication Protocol instead, the company says.

In addition to 802.1X support, the Identity Engines Ignition Server has a more advanced policy engine based on XACML, which makes it suitable for mixed-access that includes wired, wireless and VPN, the company says.

Nortel bought the Ignition technology last fall when it snapped up the intellectual property of Identity Engines, which had gone out of business.

Nortel says Ignition Server will give the company access to about 100 customers that already own an Identity Engines appliance but are not Nortel shops. Initially Nortel plans to migrate the customers to the virtual Ignition Server, which represents both a shift to a virtual version of the software and also an upgrade that includes bug fixes and a few new features. Legally, Nortel is not obligated to support Identity Engines appliances, Nortel says.

Talking to the Identity Engines customers about the upgrade will give Nortel the chance to talk about Nortel's unified communications, data switching, VoIP and other products, the company says.

In addition to Ignition Server, the new Identity Engines family includes Ignition Posture, which checks the health of endpoints; Ignition Guest Manager, which enables non-technical staff to sponsor network access for visitors; and Ignition Analytics, which supports analysis and reporting of network activity.

The products will be available in June, and Ignition Server starts about US$23,000.

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