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Around this time last year, network access control (NAC) was the be-all, end-all for network security. Performing pre- and post-admission checks on devices before allowing them access to the network and applications was still a relatively fresh concept.
And, as with every new thing, vendors scrambled and clawed to get their solutions to market and offer a new or different form of NAC, adding in one or two new components, but keeping the rest pretty much status quo.
Now, however, it seems it’s all been done. While many key vendors offer some form of NAC — Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper and others — it’s getting increasingly harder to differentiate between them, since NAC has entered the realm of commoditization. There are also still a number of vendors — Vernier, Nevis and many more – offering point-based NAC appliances and tools to fill the gap, but even those solutions vary in only minuscule ways.
I didn’t really see things that way until a recent chat with Current Analysis senior analyst Andrew Braunberg. While we discussed some additions and enhancements to Juniper’s Unified Access Control (UAC) NAC products, Braunberg quickly pointed out that NAC has gotten to the point where there isn’t much that can be added to it that isn’t already there. Sure, vendors can enhance certain elements and integrate NAC with other tools, but the core functionality of a NAC solution is likely not to change much for a while.
“There’s not really going to be anything new under the sun in the NAC market over the next few years,” he said. “Most of it is already available. Vendors will continue fortifying their NAC solutions.”
I have to agree. It seems the time for radical developments in NAC has stopped. That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It just is. I’m curious, however, what that next big NAC development will be a few years from now. I’d like to ask you. Do you have any predictions on where NAC is heading? Do you agree or disagree that NAC solutions have reached a plateau? How will that affect your NAC purchases moving forward?