NAC has a future

* The Magic Quadrant for Network Access Control report says the NAC market is still growing

Like a lot of businesses, NAC vendors will be facing tough times over the next few years, but there are glimmers of hope for even the startups, according to a new report by Gartner.

Its “Magic Quadrant for Network Access Control” report says that the growth of revenue from sales of NAC gear will cool, although it is still growing. In 2007, revenues grew 90% and last year they grew 50%, the report says, although Gartner says it expected them to grow 100% last year. The bottom line is good; the market is still growing.

Cisco dominates in the number of NAC customers held by any of the vendors ranked. It and other network infrastructure vendors generally sell NAC equipment to their current customers, and over time they will put more and more pressure on NAC vendors that only sell NAC gear, the report says. If NAC can be deployed and managed within the network infrastructure and not separately, it becomes more attractive.

The report also predicts consolidation among NAC vendors, which means some will disappear, either by being bought or folding, which could leave some of the pure-play NAC vendors vulnerable.

The upside for these pure NAC vendors is that some of them were able to land millions in new financing last year – Bradford Networks, ConSentry Networks and ForeScout – which may help them weather NAC-specific consolidation and the wider economic crisis.

Another upside is that customers like NAC. Those that have bought it report they find it valuable, Gartner says, which counters some still-lingering chatter that it’s not worth the effort. Those that use it often buy it for a very specific purpose, but once they have it broaden its use, the report says. “…Gartner believes many enterprises will expand their use of NAC beyond the initial focus,” it says. That also speaks for a healthy market.

So NAC seems like it will be around for quite awhile, sold as stand-alone gear, as part of endpoint security packages, as an adjunct to other security gear and as part of network infrastructure.

Not so for this NAC newsletter. Starting next week it becomes the Cloud Security newsletter, addressing security of cloud services as well as cloud-based security services.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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