• United States
Executive Editor

Branch offices get multifunction devices

Mar 06, 20062 mins
Network SecurityNetworkingSecurity

Businesses have two new options for simplifying their branch office networks with multifunction devices from NetDevices and Adtran.

NetDevices is introducing a chassis that can eliminate the need for as many as six devices in corporate branch offices.

Called the SG-4, the box includes a stateful-inspection firewall, support for IPSec VPNs, intrusion detection and prevention, and Ethernet switching and routing. The box also supports QoS and contains a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) application layer gateway. The modular chassis supports as many as eight WAN ports, and uses the same cards as NetDevice’s larger SG-8, so customers can mix and match them among chassis.

With its focus on security applications, the SG-4 is comparable to Cisco’s ISR routers and Juniper’s SSG security gateways, says Keith Nissen, an analyst with In-Stat. NetDevices designed its gear to be a multifunction platform, he says.

The operating system for the device, called ModuLive, enables software upgrades without disrupting other functions on the box, and processing power can be upgraded as needed.

Customers also are attracted by the configuration and management of the devices, says Nancy Hall, CIO of healthcare provider MedAmerica in Emeryville, Calif., which uses NetDevices gear to support secure communications with a medical billing service. A LAN administrator for the billing firm installed and maintains the device without any special training.

The SG-4 costs $8,000.

Meanwhile, Adtran is introducing a small-business or branch office device that includes an IP PBX along with an access router, firewall, VPN, CSU/DSU and 24-port switch. Because of the different mix of features, the NetVanta 7100 device does not compete directly with NetDevices.

The PBX includes voice mail, an auto attendant and a SIP gateway. All 24 10/100Mbps LAN ports support PoE so the phones can be powered over a LAN.

NetVanta 7100 is proving versatile for The Counts Company, a construction firm in Chattanooga, Tenn. The company wanted a PBX that offered more features than its Executone phones, says Stief Counts, the owner of the firm. The PBX enables conferencing with subcontractors as well as voice mail and auto attendant that handle calls when employees are at job sites or in the company warehouse, Counts says.

Because the system is based on VoIP, Counts was able to install a phone in the warehouse using Ethernet over powerline technology. The phone extension required no rewiring.

A NetVanta 7100 for 24 extensions, including PolyCom phones, costs $13,000.