Network advances to shine at Demo

The nearly 70 companies showcasing products at this week's Demo 2004 conference will announce everything from instant messaging to Web services security to network management tools. Despite the variety of technologies at least one theme is expected to em

The nearly 70 companies showcasing products at this week's Demo 2004 conference will announce everything from instant messaging to Web services security to network management tools. Despite the variety of technologies at least one theme is expected to emerge: making enterprise networks run smarter and more securely.

"We're seeing a real push toward mastering more efficient ways to manage and organize systems," says Chris Shipley, producer of the annual new technology confab, which is produced by a Network World business unit.

About three-quarters of the participating vendors are targeting network executives, whereas the rest will address consumer and other markets.

Here's an exclusive look at some of the enterprise network products being highlighted at the Scottsdale, Ariz., show:

Security

Trend Micro's Network VirusWall 1200 is intended to identify and then quarantine infections without shutting down the entire network.

The appliance works with the company's Control Manager anti-virus and content-filtering management software to identify threats. Then it can isolate affected machines, eliminate worms and run a damage-control clean-up operation on desktops and servers that might not have been patched.

The appliance plugs into a LAN segment between a workgroup switch and a server, where it monitors traffic down to the packet level to identify potential viruses and worms.

The Network VirusWall 1200 is scheduled to ship in early April. The product is priced separately based on software and services, and hardware. For 1,000 end users, the price would be about $24,000 for software and services, and about $3,000 per appliance.

Forum Systems will unveil the XWall Web Services Firewall, an appliance that lets network administrators create policies to associate a range of filtering and protection features, or rules, with specific XML-based Web services. When Web services requests hit the appliance, they trigger these rules. The XWall software, in effect, opens the XML documents that constitute these requests and compares their contents with the relevant security policy. Then, the appliance either passes the request on or blocks it.

Forum executives say it takes only about 15 minutes to set up XWall, largely because Forum's programmers have created a series of policy templates that identify potential problems and offer a drop-down list of protection features that can be selected.

XWall becomes available this week, priced from $2,500 to $10,000.

Reactivity is announcing an optional XML processing board for its XML Firewall 2300. The board, fruit of a six-month development partnership with Intel spin-off Tarari, pushes XML security processing into Tarari's custom chipset. The goal is to boost the firewall's ability to strip apart XML documents, run a security scan on the contents, and then reassemble the documents as part of a Web services application.

The two companies worked together to identify specific security processing tasks and specific elements in XML messaging. These are divided between the chipset and the appliance software to optimize performance.

A release date and pricing have not yet been decided.

Imperva, formerly WebCohort, will showcase SecureSphere 2.0, a combination of software and Intel-based sensors that sniffs HTTP, SQL, Secure Sockets Layer and XML traffic in Web applications. The software first determines an application's normal behavior. Then, shifting to what Imperva calls "protect mode," SecureSphere continually compares real-time behavior with this norm and to a set of behaviors, or signatures, that are the hallmarks of denial-of-service attacks and other malicious behavior.

In Version 2.0, Imperva gives administrators the ability to create their own signatures and to give priority to a subset of the signature database. Another change now lets SecureSphere operate in learning and protect modes at the same time. So the software algorithms can see, for example, that a detected deviation simply represents an authorized software patch, not a virus attack.

Version 2.0 is scheduled for release on March 6. It is priced at $12,000 per protected database server and $6,000 per protected Web server.

Collaboration

IMlogic will preview a tool set, IM Linkage, that lets programmers make instant-messaging clients, such as AOL Instant Messenger, an integrated element of enterprise applications.

The company's IM Manager acts as a management overlay on a plethora of existing IM clients and translates "calls" between one IM product and another.

The core of IM Manager is included in IM Linkage, which consists of a software development kit, graphical development tools and a run-time environment. Application developers work with their traditional Java or Microsoft.Net tools and then use IM Linkage to incorporate IM features and capabilities into the application code. When users log on to that application, they can see the IM status of all the other users and call them or set up ad hoc IM conferences.

IM Linkage is set for release in June. Pricing has not been set.

Viack will unwrap the prototype of an extensive new security framework that tailors its Via3 E-meeting Service for a range of federal and state agencies.

The new version, dubbed Via3 for Government, is scheduled for release by year-end. The goal is, in effect, to translate an immense array of government security procedures and best practices into software that will let administrators control who sees and uses information in online meetings.

The change involves adding an extensive set of management and audit controls to Via3.

Management

Six months ago, Consera Software shipped its first product, AgileOne, which lets a company create automated workflows for managing enterprise file-sharing services. The software automates complex data center procedures traditionally captured on whiteboards and fat, ringed binders called run books.

This week, Consera will unveil a companion graphical tool set called AgileOne Solution Builder, which lets administrators tailor these workflows and create new ones that can be added to the AgileOne server. One workflow might be for migrating files from Windows NT4 servers to Windows Server 2003. Using Solution Builder, an administrator can unzip that workflow and add an e-mail command and address at the end. The next time the migration workflow executes under AgileOne, the software will send an e-mail to the designated recipient with a notice that the migration has been completed.

AgileOne Solution Builder costs $5,000 per user, with a $1,000 first-year fee for maintenance and support.

MValent is unveiling an application called Continuity for its mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite. Continuity will let IT administrators run complex configuration changes on a range of application servers. The first version of the suite uses a program called Integrity, which automatically captures from Web servers, database servers and other systems, data about their settings and how they're configured.

Continuity adds the ability to create a sequence, or workflow, of adjustments across a range of inter-related servers and then execute these changes, with the information being shared by a variety of IT and network staff.

The product is shipping now as part of the Automation Suite, which is priced at $50,000 for a five-seat license.

Wireless LANs

Symbol Technologies will demonstrate a switch for deploying wireless in small or branch offices.

To create the client connection, users can plug into the WS 2000 up to six of Symbol's simplified, stripped down WLAN access "ports." Four of these Fast Ethernet interfaces have Power over Ethernet. Then the switch is plugged into the office's WAN link, such as a DSL connection. The switch links to Symbol's enterprise-class WS 5000 at a regional or headquarters office, from which network administrators can monitor and manage the branch-office device.

Among other things, the administrator can create several WLANs on each Symbol radio connected to the WS 2000, grouping laptop users on one, PDA users on another, visitors on still another.

The WS 2000 is scheduled to ship in about a month and cost about $1,000.

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Cool Tools guru Keith Shaw will be keeping you up to date on all Demo developments live from the show floor.

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