Cisco NAC appliance secures enterprise networks

More than two years into its Network Admission Control (NAC) infrastructure vision, Cisco Systems Inc. last week announced the addition of a new appliance to its NAC arsenal.
While it’s not completely clear what impact Cisco’s new NAC Appliance 4.0 will have on users, some industry analysts say an appliance-based approach to NAC could serve as a building block for a later framework rollout.

“They can get started with it now,” Yankee Group vice president Zeus Kerravala said of companies that are considering NAC but are still teetering on the fence about deployment. “It can give them a taste of what it’s like, and it lets them see the benefits.”

For an NAC framework approach, users would have to go through a full router and switch upgrade, which is often costly, complex and time consuming. Though Kerravala said a framework approach is a better way to go, NAC alone can’t justify a complete upgrade.

“If someone’s running older routers and switches, NAC isn’t going to be the sole reason for an upgrade,” he said.

Simply put: An NAC framework is not a weekend road trip, it’s a years-long journey and NAC 4.0 would be the gasoline.

Cisco NAC Appliance 4.0 is the latest incarnation of Clean Access. The upgrade provides policy enforcement at enterprise network entry points. Version 4.0 can be deployed in-line or out-of-band with network traffic at Layer 2, and it can be deployed out-of-band at Layer 3 to minimize the number of services required for multiple locations.