Napera N24: NAP made easy
Napera's plug-and-play network access control appliance brings NAP services to Windows and Mac OS X, without the use of Windows Server 2008Follow @infoworld
The N24 immediately begins reporting the status of devices, and any NAP-enabled system is automatically listed with its health details. Macs can receive similar capabilities with the installation of a Napera-supplied client. Although the reporting is not extensive, it provides a good overview of status so that you can check into any unexpected issues.
For example, you can quickly tell which users and which operating systems are connected through the switch, how many are in compliance, and how many are out of compliance. The N24 does not, however, provide detailed information on the traffic passing through the switch, so it is not simple to determine a zero-day traffic pattern.
NAP services, sans server
Another advantage of the Napera solution: Although the N24 uses the NAP protocols, it does not require deploying Windows Server 2008. All of the NAP functions that Windows Server 2008 brings to a Windows network are provided by the N24 appliance instead. The N24 is able to join a domain and use Active Directory Service information for authentication, or it can provide a captive portal, guest access, or local database option for authentication.
In addition to unhitching NAP from Windows Server 2008, Napera's outstanding freshman offering combines a simple installation with the power of a SaaS back end. The larger providers of networking equipment would do well to review Napera's approach and recognize the power of the cloud for configuration and reporting.
|Pros||Makes NAP deployment a snap. Doesn't require Windows Server 2008. Feature-rich, SaaS management system based on Amazon Web Services. Easy updates to switch and system agents from the cloud. Highly secure, per-port inline enforcement.|
|Cons||Each switch must be independently configured. Reporting could be more extensive.|
|Cost||Napera N24 appliance costs $3,495 plus an annual maintenance cost of $695 after the first year. The N24S, a stackable 24-port expansion switch, costs $995 plus an annual maintenance cost of $195 after the first year.|
|Platforms||24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch (1U rackmount). Web-based admin supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome browsers. NAP services support health checks of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X clients.|
Stephen Hultquist is a contributing editor to the InfoWorld Test Center and an independent consultant. He specializes in using technology for business value as an on-demand CIO and CTO.