Open source swarms around NAC

Universities lead the way, but wide acceptance may take awhile

FreeNAC

Meahwhile, Swisscom, the state-owned telecom in Switzerland, is hoping its open source NAC software will also have commercial appeal. The company has recently started marketing a commercial version of the software, called FreeNC, and has five customers, says Sean Boran, a Swisscom senior security consultant who is the project lead on FreeNAC.

The commercial version of FreeNAC includes some features not available via the open source version, and Swisscom charges a subscription fee that includes installation and support. Boran says the service is aimed at businesses that have aging, heterogeneous infrastructure, including switches that don't support 802.1x port authentication, which is required by many commercial NAC vendors as a means to enforce policies.

Like Williams College's VMPS-based NAC, FreeNAC started out using Cisco VMPS to enforce policies, but that has been expanded to include 802.1x, he says. That means FreeNAC can support networks that have a mix of equipment, and can help them transition to a commercial NAC platform as they upgrade their infrastructure over time.

"If you're a tightly managed Cisco shop with Windows [desktops] I don't see a need for what we're doing, but we'll work for you today with today's infrastructure," Boran says.

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