CenterBeam, Network Associates team up

CenterBeam, a systems integrator that installs and remotely manages Windows-based office LANs for small to mid-sized businesses, is teaming with Network Associates to provide a hosted security service for its customers.

CenterBeam sets up Windows 2000 desktops and servers for smaller businesses and typically installs high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) for each office. In a somewhat unusual arrangement, CenterBeam makes these offices part of a larger network that it manages, letting users access the Microsoft Exchange messaging server hosted at CenterBeam.

"We don't run a separate Exchange server," says CenterBeam executive vice president and chief technical officer Glenn Ricart. "We give them access to the Exchange server at our data centre here." Customers also get Internet access through the CenterBeam data centre.

Virus checking and intrusion detection are part of the total hosted Windows service package CenterBeam provides, at a cost of $US200 to $250 per seat. Each seat runs Network Associates' McAfee antivirus software, and intrusion detection is provided by the CyberCop Patrol hosted service, available through the Network Associates division called

"We want to provide a secure and reliable infrastructure for small business as part of our managed service," says Ricart, who claims to have about 1000 business customers.

Microsoft is an investor in CenterBeam, and Ricart claims the latest Microsoft operating system, which shipped about two months ago, is well suited for outsourced network management.

"With Windows 2000, you can apply group policies on the server, whereas NT 4.0 didn't have these management characteristics," Ricart says, emphasising that each corporate customer has restricted access to system files and can't change its IP address.

CenterBeam uses Covad Communications as its preferred DSL provider for small to mid-sized offices. Covad's private virtual circuits are pre-programmed to switch data from each office directly to the CenterBeam data centre, where network management of multiple enterprise LANs is done through Hewlett-Packard's OpenView.