NAC vendor branches out, changes name to Autonomic Networks

Vernier Networks has changed its name and its product mandate, as vendors who specialize only in network access control (NAC) products find it harder to get by.

“We found technology that has tremendous synergy with what we had,” says Alan Norquist, vice-president of marketing at the company, now called Autonomic Networks. “It’s very complementary to our existing technology and that changes a lot.”

He wouldn’t expand on what the new technology is, but Autonomic’s Web site describes it as hardware that learns, audits and controls user access to sensitive data and other network assets. It says the technology can boil down the vast number of suspicious events that occur on business networks and trigger alerts only for those that require action.

The site says the gear can allow overriding set policies on the fly if an individual needs a resource unexpectedly, but at the same time monitors that expanded access to make sure it maintains security as well as industry and regulatory requirements.

“Bottom line — Autonomic Networks delivers highly adaptive access controls network security professionals need to achieve a new level of business enablement while minimizing security risks, maintaining regulatory compliance, and protecting against fraud and theft,” Autonomic’s Web site says.

Autonomic will detail its new technology sometime next month, Norquist says.

Vernier’s change comes at a time in NAC’s growth when customers are starting to deploy the technology more widely and discovering it is not a one-size-fits-all commodity, says Rob Whiteley, an analyst with Forrester Research.

A company that bought NAC gear strictly to mediate guest access to corporate networks might find that the same gear does not fit for broader use because it doesn’t scale up will for larger deployments, Whiteley says. Or it might not handle user identity data readily. “What they’re finding is there is no turnkey NAC solution” he says.

Customers need to regard NAC as scenario-based and to map out the requirements for different uses they might put NAC to, he says. For example, role-based access controls require tapping into corporate directory servers, something not required of guest-access NAC.

Vernier isn’t the first NAC vendor to discover that NAC may not be enough to sustain a business plan long-term. Caymas Systems last year shut its doors and sold its NAC technology to Citrix.

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