Juniper releases Version 2 of NAC product

Completes integration of Funk, 802.1x

With all the hype and anticipation that has surrounded the NAC (network access control) space in recent years, you can forgive IT administrators for assuming that full-featured NAC solutions were just around the corner. But progress on client screening and NAC has been agonizingly slow since the first NAC products hit the market in 2004.

Real network access control is about baking security into the network, which takes time. Recently, some of the fervor around NAC has died down, with enterprises and vendors settling into a period of incremental progress on the technology front, and slow but steady adoption. Witness Juniper’s announcement this week of UAC (Unified Access Control) 2.0, a major update of its NAC solution.

The company said on Monday that UAC 2.0 completes integration of technology it purchased with access control vendor Funk Software a year ago. Juniper has updated its Infranet Controller, the brains of its UAC solution, with elements of the Steel-Belted Radius authentication server and has blended Funk’s Odyssey Access Client with the UAC Agent software, according to Stephen Philip, director of product marketing for the security products group at Juniper.

The updates will allow UAC to work in multi-vendor environments and support both IEEE 802.1X and Trusted Computing Group’s TNC (Trusted Network Connect), the open standards-based access control architecture, said Oliver Tavakoli, vice president of architecture and technology in the security products group at Juniper.

The updated UAC product expands the enforcement possibilities for Juniper customers, allowing companies to scan clients connecting via wired or wireless connections before, during, and after they log in to network resources.

“The Infranet Controller maintains its connection to the end point, which creates the opportunity to recheck policy,” Tavakoli said.

Adoption of NAC technology has been slow because of a lack of interoperability among NAC components and the high costs associated with NAC solutions from Cisco. Juniper expects to see increasing momentum in the next two years, as more TNC-compliant products are released, Tavakoli said.

“2008 and 2009 will be the sweet spot,” Tavakoli said.