Juniper, Cisco focus on access control

Company updates Odyssey, deals proxy wares

Although Cisco Systems began evangelizing the notion of NAC (network access control) in 2003, it took its time putting a NAC strategy together, allowing competitors and small startups to rush in to fill the void. The fuzzy NAC picture, however, is starting to snap into focus, with access control news from both Cisco and Juniper Networks in recent weeks.

Cisco introduced Version 4.0 of the NAC Appliance on July 9, with SSO (single sign-on) support for VPN clients, wireless clients, and Windows Active Directory domains, and “out of band” deployments at layer 3 traffic added to inline or out-of-band deployments at layer 2, Cisco said.

Juniper Networks is also ready to talk access control. The company on Monday announced updates to its Odyssey Access Client and Steel Belted Radius authentication server. The Odyssey Access Client, Version 4.5, allows customers to designate preferred networks, disable wireless network connections when PCs are docked, and mark devices as “shared” to prevent sensitive information from being stored on them, said Oliver Tavakoli, vice president of engineering at Juniper.

Steel Belted Radius 5.4 focuses mostly on improving management features, including the ability to add large numbers of Radius clients and better centralized configuration management features introduced in Version 5.3, Tavakoli said.

In contrast to Cisco, Juniper is focusing on NAC software and hardware that are based on open standards, such as the Trusted Computing Group’s Trusted Network Connect, Tavakoli said.

“We don’t see an environment where we have to create a NAC solution that precludes other companies from deploying their gear in our environment,” Tavakoli added.