NetWorld+Interop: NA releasing WebShield apps

Plug-and-play hardware appliance puts the NAI's range of security software in one box.

Network Associates is getting into the appliance business.

The leviathan of the computer security business announced this morning it will release a series of WebShield E-ppliances for computer security. The new hardware, to be unveiled this week at NetWorld + Interop in Atlanta, combines the company's wide range of security software in a single box, including anti-virus, firewall and VPN software. The advantage of that, according to company officials, is that it is "plug and play". In other words, it's much easier to install on a network. CEO Bill Larson is expected to discuss the E-ppliances at a Wednesday evening keynote at the conference.

The benefits of hardware-based security devices and software-based security that runs on other machines such as Unix or NT-based servers have long been debated in the security community. While the hardware boxes are arguably easier to manage on a network and can avoid operating system vulnerabilities while providing a performance boost, critics say they can be inflexible and often hard to use in a malleable corporate environment.

The E-ppliance line incorporates the WebShield 100 E-ppliance, which includes McAfee Total Virus Defense software, and the WebShield 300 E-ppliance, which includes McAfee Anti-virus and Gauntlet Firewall/VPN software. Network Associates worked with Sun Microsystems (building on top of the Solaris platform), Hewlett-Packard, Frontier Communications and CoSine Communications on the E-ppliances.

HP will sell the E-ppliances through its own distribution channels, while Frontier will provide managed security services using the entire lines of Network Associates security software and hardware.