Looking to ratchet up its competition with Cisco Systems in the corporate networking market, Juniper Networks is introducing a set of security tools designed to help IT managers more efficiently enforce access-control and usage policies on their networks.
Juniper will also outline a broad network security framework that it plans to fill out over the next few years. The Enterprise Infranet initiative was designed to give users a comprehensive, policy-based approach to securing networks, applications and end-user devices, its director of product management, Rod Murchison, said.
The planned framework gives IT managers a potential alternative to Cisco's emerging Network Admission Control (NAC) technology and the Network Access Protection offering that Microsoft is developing.
Vice-president of products for Juniper's security tools and network-access routers, David Flynn, acknowledged that completely delivering on the Enterprise Infranet vision would take several years. Many users would have to integrate IT security operations more tightly in order to fully embrace the offerings, he said.
Juniper's new tools for controlling network access and usage are based on technology from its acquisition of NetScreen Technologies last year and are due for release in the third quarter. They are similar to the initial NAC products that Cisco released last year. But the tools also provided continuous monitoring of devices, instead of simply deciding whether they should be able to access a network, Flynn said.
Another key difference was that Cisco was integrating the security into its networking equipment, while Juniper was offering its tools as an overlay designed to work with a mix of network gear, Forrester Research analyst, Robert Whiteley, said.
An analyst at The Yankee Group, Jim Slaby, said: "Cisco's approach really anticipates that you have an all-Cisco network and that you have updated your network infrastructure to versions of the Cisco operating system that support NAC," he said. "For a lot of customers, that's going to take quite a while and be rather expensive."
Craig Stedman contributed to this story