ForeScout introduces NAC-as-a-service platform

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ForeScout Technologies today introduced its CounterACT network access control (NAC) system as a cloud platform targeting hosted and managed service providers (MSPs).

The CounterACT automated security control platform has over 1,000 installations worldwide, a number of which are used by MSPs. However, its creator is hoping to extend its penetration of this emerging segment and capitalise on growth in the managed security services market.

The company has packaged up its NAC product so MSPs can offer network-based endpoint security services to their end customers and introduce subscription-based billing to take advantage of market growth of 13 per cent this year alone – as predicted recently by Infonetics Research, driven particularly by small and midsized business (SMB) demand.

Scott Gordon, ForeScout vice president of worldwide marketing, told Cloud Pro the trend towards using personal mobile devices – like smartphones and laptops – for work was forcing even SMBs to look again at managing their access to networks which need to be kept secure.

“The consumerisation of IT is a big mover that’s impacting everybody,” he said. “We’re really allowing MSPs to take advantage of the trend that is emerging for them to be a trusted security advisor.”

The company has packaged up its NAC virtual appliance, first launched in June this year, which can be deployed on-premise or in a cloud running as a VMware guest virtual machine. The end user or MSP can manage both physical and virtual appliances using the ForeScout CounterACT Enterprise Manager console, which the company said could support more than 200,000 devices.

Ade Omotomilola, head of managed services at Axial Systems, said the launch of the ForeScout service would extend his company’s existing use of the NAC product and build on the mature channel for network security services and virtual private networks (VPNs).

“The big issue around NAC deployments is complexity, which includes the technology, skills and management costs,” he said.

“Where before, we had to make significant investment upfront for NAC appliances and amortise that across the lifespan of the customer contract, now that we have access to a subscription-based model and pricing… we can be more competitive.”

Andrew Kellett, senior security analyst at Ovum, said SMBs were the ideal target market for NAC-as-a-service.

“It provides systems and technologies that they couldn’t necessarily provide themselves, but that they increasingly need,” he told Cloud Pro.

“NAC looks at the network switches, routers and firewalls, and then all the devices that connect to it. Even the average printer, when you look at it, can be seen as a potential security threat and business owners have, in some cases, a regulatory responsibility to be aware of this and manage it accordingly.”

Kellett added: “Also, when you consider many an IT system is delivered as a service nowadays, it makes sense that a service provider could also manage the access to and security around it.”

He concluded ForeScout’s agentless approach to NAC using real-time network asset discovery and 802.1x and non-802.1x access enforcement would appeal to those managing access across increasingly mixed device estates.

Its CounterACT endpoint discovery and monitoring technology enables the identification, auto classification and assessment of network-attached devices without needing to maintain an exception list, and simplifying support for industry and regulatory data security mandates, like Payment Card Industry standards and Sarbanes-Oxley laws.

To back its MSP push, ForeScout also announced today it had been accredited under the MSPAlliance (MSPA) Vendor Accreditation Programme (VAP), specifically designed by MSPs as a benchmark for vendors who sell to the MSP community.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.