It seems the software industry may be willing to bet on it, too. The first integrated NAC/MDM was announced today as Fiberlink, which provides MDM via its cloud-based MaaS360 mobile device management service, detailed how it's partnering with ForeScout with its agentless CounterAct appliance for NAC.
According to Scott Gordon, ForeScout vice president of worldwide marketing, anyone with the Fiberlink MDM will now be able to exert NAC controls for Apple iOS and Google Android devices with a CounterAct add-on module. And ForeScout in turn will soon be selling what it calls "ForeScout MDM powered by MaaS360" under a licensing arrangement with Fiberlink. ForeScout anticipates similar arrangement with other MDM vendors.
There are a lot of MDM vendors today -- London-based consultancy Ovum estimates there are about 70 MDM vendors of varying types angling for attention.
NAC being forged into MDM offers some advantages, says Orans, in terms of allowing IT managers to set policy-based controls on BYOD tablets and smartphones in the enterprise. In the mobile device context, NAC might check to see if there's BYOD "containerization" in place, for instance, to make sure personal and business data is cordoned off in some way before granting network access.
Fiberlink and ForeScout say their approach for BYOD allows for a policy to isolate personally owned devices in a limited access zone, where they may access a subset of applications and data.
Employees may find advantages in the NAC/MDM controls, too, said Neil Florio, Fiberlink's vice president of marketing, because it will allow for the enforcement of privacy settings. "Employees have the fear that management will have the ability to see things on their devices they wish they wouldn't," he noted. But an IT organization can set that, determining not to look into personal data on a BYOD tablet.
Orans says the Fiberlink/ForeScout partnership may be the first to meld NAC and MDM but there are going to be several more to follow in the future.
Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.
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