NAI opens consulting group

NAI opens consulting group

Network security company Network Associates (NAI) has created a new professional services group to offer consulting and educational services to its customers.

Network Associates Expert Services will specialise in helping companies address networking and security-related issues and will offer courses on using NAI products.

The announcement marks a shift in the company's business plan from a product-focused model centred on network and security products such as Sniffer Technologies and McAfee antivirus to a model that blends products and services into customised business solutions.

''Network Associates is clearly shedding its old skin and trying to grow a new skin as a security company," said Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security.

Under the banner of Expert Network Services, NAI is offering a variety of packaged and custom consulting services. Depending on their needs, customers can hire NAI consultants for onsite or remote analysis of a set number of network segments, according to information posted on NAI's Web site.

In addition, the company is offering "jump-start" services in which Network Associates consultants help a customer's IT staff deploy and configure NAI products such as Sniffer Distributed appliances, nPO Manager and nPO Visualizer or help integrate third-party products into customer networks.

As part of its Expert Security Services, NAI is offering antivirus screening and policy audits, gap and risk analysis, penetration testing and wireless security assessment. That program also provides jump-start services for the NAI antivirus product line, including ePolicy Orchestrator, GroupShield, WebShield e500 appliance and McAfee Desktop Firewall products.

The company is offering emergency response services that provide customers with assistance to overcome network outages, security breaches and virus outbreaks. Customers can also contract with NAI to provide customised network and security consulting services apart from their packaged offerings.

Wrapped into the new Expert Services group is NAI's existing training organisation, which offers courses and certificate programs through McAfee University and Sniffer University. NAI calls the educational component of the new group Expert Educational Services. It was not clear if there would be any changes to the company's educational offerings as part of the new services.

The new group brings Network Associates in line with competitors such as Symantec, which also offers consulting services to its customers, but Lindstrom cautions that it may be a while before NAI sees any profits from its new services group.

"It's fairly simple to put together a professional services organisation. It's not so simple to generate revenue," Lindstrom said.

So, while the flagging economy should make it easier to pick up talent, NAI will have to press hard on its existing customer base to sign up for its new services while also taking new customers away from established players such as EDS and HP.

Lindstrom says to watch for NAI to work with companies such as Internet Security Systems and Secure Computing to bring expertise in threat management and firewall technology to the table.

A purchase of established managed services companies might also be in the offing within the next year, according to Lindstrom.

No price information for the new consulting services was available.

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