LAN security firm pushes into UK

Vinod Dahm, who helped create the Pentium, hopes to capitalise on demand for LAN protection

A LAN security company founded by a former Intel executive has launched in the UK market.

Vinod Dahm, known by some as "The Father of the Pentium", has ploughed $40m from his venture capital firm into the company, Nevis Networks.

Nevis aims to address what it claims are critical issues around LAN security, brought about by the deperimeterisation of corporate networks. Nevis' UK operations are led by Matthew Nunnery, who launched Foundry Networks — now a rival to Nevis — in the UK 10 years ago.

Nevis will supply an ASIC-based security appliance and a secure switch, each providing network access control, granular policy making, an audit trail, plus signature and anomaly-based security.

The appliance helps to secure up to 1,000 users for a cost of £21,750. The 48-port gigabit switch costs £9,350, about the same as the equivalent Cisco Catalyst switch. Nevis is not mincing its language and has harsh words for Cisco — its main competitor.

Dominic Wilde, head of product management, said: "Cisco created the NAC market and they are unable to service it. It's too expensive. You need a strategic upgrade to your switching technology."

Wilde added that Nevis would consider a range of opportunities for the company, including an OEM or resale agreement with the major switch vendors.

But Nevis' focus is in contrast to the views of others in the industry.

Some security groups believe that deperimeterisation — where the security emphasis is moved from the edge of the network and onto individual devices, and ultimately to individually encrypted data packets — is the future. Deperimeterisation is being promoted in the UK by the Jericho Foundation.

Analysts see LAN security as a fast-growing area, and some have even labelled the evolution of new secure switches as the biggest evolution in LAN technology for a decade.

Steve Cramoysan, a 22-year veteran of the IT industry and now a leading analyst at Gartner, said: "Ethernet switches with comprehensive NAC functionality represents the most significant change to LANs since gigabit Ethernet was first introduced in the mid-1990s."

Cisco led the charge to develop security within its switches with the launch of network access control (NAC) technologies two years ago.

Last week, number-two vendor Foundry Networks said it had built security into its switches. Consentry Networks, a specialist company in this area, which started up just last year, is also witnessing some commercial successes.

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