Nortel this week unveiled new and enhanced products designed to improve security and further optimize the network for business processes.
Among the more significant enhancements is integration of Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) protocols with Nortel's Secure Network Access (SNA) network access control (NAC) products. This integration will let users deploy Nortel's network and security infrastructure alongside Microsoft NAP components in an effort to implement an end-to-end NAC security system.
"Nortel is doing a better job of working with Microsoft overall" than any other NAP supporter, says Rob Whiteley, senior analyst of enterprise networking at Forrester Research. "Whenever you're relying that heavily to compete with the Cisco juggernaut, you have to do more than just look like you're the transport equipment that is underlying [Microsoft technologies]. You do need to make sure, from a strategy perspective, that you're in line with other aspects. Given who Nortel is and how they work with Microsoft, I think it's important to show commitment to that and not just look like they're riding the coattails."
Nortel SNA is available now and Microsoft has announced that NAP will be available in Windows Server 2008.
Nortel also rolled out a new release of its VPN Gateway software that enhances end-point security and data leakage protection to remote users. This is provided through SSL On Demand Protection; an installed client with improved mobility, roaming, route table monitoring, and a close portal option; and emergency remote access licenses for disaster recovery. VPN Gateway 7.0 also provides support for Microsoft Windows Vista.
Nortel also updated its fixed configuration portfolio line of switches, with stacking support for the Ethernet Routing Switch (ERS) 2500, extended Split Multi-Link Trunking (SMLT) capabilities on the ERS 5500 to support switch clustering, and the addition of five products into the ERS 4500 series.
SMLT is a proprietary fast-failover technology for connecting backbone switches. The enhanced SMLT for the ERS 5500 lets users have two ERS 5500 stacks of as many as eight units interconnected to form a 2.5 terabit switch cluster.
The five new 4500 series switches are:
- The ERS 4526T, with 24 10/100BaseTX ports plus two combo 10/100/1000/SFP ports
- The ERS 4526T-PWR, with 24 10/100 802.3af Power over Ethernet ports, plus two combo 10/100/1000/SFP ports
- The ERS 4524GT, with 24 10/100/1000BaseTX ports and four shared SFP ports
- The ERS 4526GTX, with 24 10/100/1000BaseTX ports and four shared SFP ports, plus two 10GE XFP slots
- The ERS 4526GTX-PWR, with 24 10/100/1000 802.3af PoE ports and four shared SFP ports, plus two 10GE XFP slots
These enable the ERS 8306 model to support a total of 36 10G ports, while the 8310 model can support as many as 68 10G ports.
Nortel also enhanced its WLAN 2300 products to improve scalability and support more applications and deployment scenarios. WLAN 2300 now supports integrated location services through an optional WLAN Location Engine that enables location-based security policies, content delivery or asset locating and tracking, Nortel says. The WLAN Location Engine costs US$16,000.
"It's a good batch of overall announcements, just as a recommitment to the enterprise space," Whiteley says. "Customers are still somewhat hesitant given the public comments made few years back about Nortel exiting any market it didn't have 20% share in."
The five new 4500 switches are priced from US$2,300 to US$5,300.
The switch fabric module for the 8300 costs US$15,000 and the eight-port 10G module costs $30,000. The software license that supports these new features for the 8300 costs US$50.
Nortel SNA 2.0 will begin trials in the first half of 2008.
All products are available now or in December.