When an employee of Toronto-based insurance company Zurich Canada went to a recent securities conference, he brought back news of a Canadian company’s new security management suite that impressed his co-workers.
It was the Network Security Manager (NSM) product suite made by Intelli tactics Inc., a fairly new company based in Kitchener, Ont.
“Typically, in larger organizations like Zurich, we tend to deal with bigger, well-known companies because of their sustainability and reliability,” said Deo Moreno, manager of enterprise information technology, technology solutions, for Zurich Canada.
“But in this, we saw some good stuff. We decided that this was a company that had some very smart ideas — a different approach to the technology.”
Moreno said he was most impressed with the fact that NSM wasn’t highly technical and that it didn’t require a lot of programming knowledge, skills and experience. Almost anyone can use it, he said.
“It’s intuitive by nature because of its artificial intelligence,” he said.
The NSM product suite includes the NSM Server, NSM Netrik, NSM Node, NSM Firewall and NSM Living Policy Suite. The cornerstone of the suite is the server, which combines application integration with network security features.
NSM Netrik uses artificial intelligence, as Moreno noted, to probe and predict network problems so they can be quickly resolved.
According to Paul Sop, president and chief architect of Intelli tactics, NSM offers one coherent system for solving a broad category of network-related problems including: network management, capacity and quality service planning, device configuration, co-ordinated intrusion-detection, security policy management, business process management, fraud detection, disaster recovery models, simulation and third-party application control.
At the core of NSM’s architecture is its patent-pending Multi-Model Technology, which allows users to visually model network activities and run several different modelling strategies simultaneously. It allows users to visually modify any activity ranging from policies to IT processes, Sop said.
Intelli tactics enterprise management and security software has been in development since 1997, and the NSM Suite was created in response to the demand for integrated monitoring of all networked applications from one Web-enabled console, according to the company.
NSM can work through CORBA, Jini, TCP/IP, ODBC, LDAP, MQSeries and DCOM.
Zurich’s Moreno said while he was impressed with NSM, and he would like to purchase it, he won’t be buying the whole suite in the near future because of concerns related to Y2K.
“We’re trying to make sure we only have as much on the table as we can realistically chew,” he said. “If it wasn’t 1999, I would have been pushing this real hard. But realistically, I know that if I pushed it, it’s going to stay on the shelf and I don’t want that to happen.”
For now, Zurich has Intelli tactics‘s Living Policy, a component of the NSM. Moreno is quite happy with the Web-based Living Policy, which organizes policy so that at any time he can go in, quickly and easily get information, change necessary information or work on the policy.
“In the security business, your foundation is your policy,” he said. “Policy should be a living, breathing document.”
Abner Germanow, research analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., called NSM a very interesting technology.
“In order to maintain good security, you use a variety of tools throughout your network — whether those are bulk-ability assessment scanners, intrusion-detection tools or firewalls — you need a way to tie all those together and compare and contrast them,” he said. “That’s one of the things this product allows.”
He added that he also likes the fact that it is Web-based and uses Java. However, he said, the artificial intelligence aspect may need some work.
“Any time I hear artificial intelligence, I have to take it with a grain of salt,” he said. “That kind of stuff is really cool, but it’s really hard to do well.
“In the meantime though, with what they have today, they are going in the right direction.”
He expects in the future Intelli tactics will forge partnerships with a wide variety of third-party security tools, as well as pull in ties to mainstream network management tools.
“One of those things those partnerships will bring would be sales channels,” he said.
Right now, he thinks the company is too small to get a large number of sales channels without partnerships, especially with a product that proposes to be a corporate-wide system.
“It’s a relatively large undertaking,” he said, explaining that many companies want to deal with a well-known, established company. Strategic partnerships would bring Intelli tactics a much-needed higher profile.
NSM, shipping in April, starts at US$5,000.
Intelli tactics in Kitchener, Ont., is at 1-888-495-4355 or at www.itactics.com.