Novell gets into NAC

* The reasons behind Novell's initial foray into NAC

Recently Novell decided to get into NAC with an OEM offer from StillSecure.

The odd thing about it at first blush is that Novell is selling all the other stuff it used to sell and now a separate NAC platform. There is no integration with its ZENworks configuration management platform. If there were, that would be quite an added value over the configuration management and NAC platforms separately.

And integration is what Novell has in mind longer term. The interesting part is that the company didn’t wait until it could come out and say, “We’ve integrated NAC with ZENworks.”

The reason is they want to put their sales channels and more importantly their customers on notice that integrated NAC is in the game plan, says Chris Christiansen, an analyst with IDC.

That says something about the state of NAC in general, namely that enough people are ready to buy it now that waiting six months or a year to introduce an integrated NAC product is waiting too long. The calculus goes: It’s better business to have a NAC product now with the promise of integration than to have no NAC product now and promise integration later. (Compare NAC products)

An IDC survey says that customers want to log every access to networks, know who the person was who accessed (not just the IP address) and to know what applications that person accessed and what they did with them, Christiansen says. They want this for both internal auditing and for complying with external regulations, he says.

NAC can play a role in fulfilling this need and an even greater role if integrated with identity and access management products. In this light, Novell’s initial foray into NAC makes a lot more sense.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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