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
Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) serves as a good foundation for securing Windows network infrastructure. Nevertheless, you can usefully expand NAP's capabilities with applications that bring easier configuration of policies, more granular enforcement, and clearer reporting to the mix. A case in point: the Napera N24 network access control appliance.
Napera licenses the NAP protocol, embeds enforcement within a gigabit Ethernet switch, and uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a Web-based application for configuration and reporting. The result is a compelling solution targeting SMB, but providing features that will be attractive for branch offices and other pockets of need within a large organization.
[ Microsoft NAP has compelling advantages, and severe shortcomings. See the Test Center review. ]
The concept is brilliantly executed: all configuration, administration, and reporting of the NAP functions are managed by a Web application on AWS that talks directly to the Napera switch, meaning that you need only a Web browser on a computer plugged into the switch to configure the system. The switch communicates directly with the AWS application, getting its NAP policies and enforcement instructions, as well as providing clear, graphical, Web-based reporting.
To good health
Setting up the Napera N24 is a snap. It looks like a typical 24-port Ethernet switch, and if you simply plug it in and turn it on, it behaves as one, too. However, once you configure its NAP services, additional capabilities come alive. Simply connect any computer to the switch and browse to mynapera.com, where you'll find a clean GUI and a simple, straightforward, and even informational configuration process. During setup, the capabilities of the switch are clear, including the methods of enforcement, the types of clients it sees on your network, and the general status of the environment.
Unlike Microsoft NAP, Napera allows for the configuration of granular policies based not only on device posture, such as whether anti-virus, antispyware, and firewall are running, but also on identity and port. This is a superset of the NAP policies available in the native Windows Network Policy Service.