Spotlight on NAP Partners: Napera Networks

This is the first in a series of NAP blog entries to shine a light on the efforts of our NAP partners to develop and deliver integrated products and solutions for the NAP platform.

In this entry, Margaret Dawson, Vice President of Marketing for Napera Networks and former Group Product Manager with the Microsoft Forefront security team, describes the history of Napera’s partnership with the NAP development team and their current NAP-integrated products. Napera recently demonstrated its N24 appliance at TechEd 2008 in Orlando.

When the founders of Napera first started putting ideas on paper, they knew they wanted to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) succeed at network security. These companies had invested a lot of money in firewalls, anti-malware solutions, and other security products but were still seeing security breaches, malware attacks, and compliance issues. This was mostly due to the increased mobility of the workforce and the ubiquity of wireless, in addition to the fact that SMEs typically do not have security or networking specialists on staff.

We identified an opportunity around network access control (NAC). The SME market is underserved in the network security space in general and specifically with NAC solutions, as all the products and architectures on the market were complex, expensive, and tended to require complicated infrastructure. Napera solutions were created to provide all the value of NAC in an easy and cost-effective fashion.

Early on, we talked to the Microsoft NAP engineering team to understand how we could work with the NAP platform. As a result of that partnership, Napera is one of the few vendors who licenses Microsoft's protocols to create a highly integrated solution around NAP. Many companies are compatible with NAP, but the Napera 24 appliance goes beyond compatibility and communicates directly with the NAP Agent service in Windows Vista and Windows XP with Service Pack 3 for fast and easy health reporting and policy enforcement.

Napera builds on the value the Microsoft NAP platform provides to deliver a single solution that combines device health enforcement for both Windows and Macintosh-based computers, identity enforcement with Active Directory or a local database, and guest access to the Internet and printers. To further smooth the rollout of NAP in smaller companies, Napera moved all of the 'heavy lifting' around management into the cloud with the online service, which provides logging, reporting, and alerting and enables easy back-up configuration services.

The Napera N24 appliance deploys like a switch in just ten minutes. An IT administrator can quickly start monitoring their network and understanding the health and identity of devices. It’s been interesting to see the response from customers, with one saying it was just like having a microscope on his network. Another customer found virtual machines he didn’t even realize were on the network, and a third customer had not realized that employees were using their iPhones to access the Internet via the corporate network, which he wanted to block.

We are on an aggressive product innovation path, delivering incremental software releases every two to three months. Earlier this month, we released Napera version 1.2, which extended our capabilities to Wi-Fi environments, making it easy to integrate WPA/WPA2-Enterprise authentication. The Napera N24 now works with new or existing 802.11 deployments for secure, user-based wireless access. With this launch, our customers can use a single wireless access point for both guests and employees, managing health and authentication requirements and controlling network access. This latest release greatly simplifies the configuration of WPA/WPA2 Enterprise with Active Directory and removes the poor security and shared passwords of WEP and WPA-Personal authentication in wireless deployments.

We are working with Microsoft to create additional momentum for NAP in smaller enterprises. As Microsoft builds more capability into the NAP platform, we will continue to look for ways to integrate and leverage those technologies to provide our customers with added value and a solution that is easy to buy and deploy.

Margaret Dawson

Vice President of Marketing Napera Networks