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June 19, 2007

What did one NAC vendor say to the other NAC vendor?

Or how about, a NAC vendor walks into a bar and ... or NAC, NAC, who's there? Isn't that the question.  There are only so many jokes you can make about NAC and there are only so many ways a NAC vendor can distinguish themselves from the other NAC vendors in the market.  I appeared today at the Network Computing NAC Forum at the St. Regis Hotel in NYC.  It was a day dedicated to NAC with 12 NAC vendors sponsoring.  Besides opening remarks and keynotes, there was a panel on out-of-band NAC, in-line NAC, infrastructure NAC and even a chance for the NAC vendors to trot out their favorite pet customer/references to talk about how they NAC.

I appeared on the out-of-band NAC panel and was the 6th of 7 vendors to present.  Each vendor had 10 minutes and then we had too short a time period for questions that bled into lunch (where we were given a 30 minute Symantec "lunch" presentation. I would have preferred a dirty water hot dog outside and skipped the Symantec presentation, but hey that is me.).  After listening to each of the vendors before me, what was I really going to say that was not already said.  My NAC was better than their NAC.  So I focused in on what is NAC and what people seem to be looking for.  A couple of interesting things I heard and saw today. One CEO (you know who you are), actually said that one of the good things their NAC product enabled was that their customers were finally able to have a complete list of all the printers on the network.  I don't know, that sounds like a pretty expensive way of finding that out.  Better off downloading nMap or something like that.  Another NAC vendor talked about quarantine via ARP poisoning (and no it was not Mirage, they twiddle ARP, not poison it and they weren't there anyway).  I was really glad the Cisco guy stood up and said sorry Charlie, but ARP poisoning does not qualify as quarantining.

One thing I do want to mention is that Dan Clark, VP of marketing at Lockdown Networks corrected something that I had taken him to task on in this blog a while back.  He clearly gave Lockdown's history as having its roots in the vulnerability space and coming to NAC in 2005.  Dan, I was quick to jump on you back then and I want you to know that I appreciate your correction on that fact.

Anyway, it was a great way for people looking at deploying NAC to come up and touch and feed a real live NAC vendor. Ultimately, you still have to install the product and play with it yourself to see if it works.  There were lots of claims and NAC crap flying today.  I also would like to see more of a panel of answering questions then just giving our elevator pitch powerpoints to the crowd.  Still a worthwhile day and a good job by Network Computing. I think all of the elevator pitches will be posted on NC site soon.

It was also good to talk shop with the other venders.  The NAC community is really made up of some folks who have gotten to know each other over the years. Heck, many of them blog and are part of the Security Bloggers Network.


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