There has been significant speculation regarding the focus and approach of Cabletron Systems Inc. spin-off Enterasys Networks Inc., but the company has recently been making efforts to get rid of the cloud hanging over its head.
One of those efforts occurred last month when the company launched its User Personalized Network (UPN), which it said is aimed at bridging the gap between business, technology and individual needs.
"The goal here is to actually have the network personalized to what you need to be," explained Kelly Kanellakis, director of technology, office of the CTO at Enterasys Networks of Canada in Mississauga, Ontario. "The way that it works is actually fairly simple. When you log on to your machine, you're basically providing your credentials to this machine and verifying who you are. When the machine connects to the infrastructure, it basically identifies you to the infrastructure...it knows who you are now. And then the switch goes out and finds your policy."
Once it finds the user's policy, the machine implements it, giving the user access to specific resources, a specific quality of service (QoS) or class of service, and enabling specific capabilities within the infrastructure and on the network, he explained.
But all of this is done automatically, Kanellakis said. "So that means that you can now go wherever you need to be, and get your access wherever you connect, automatically. So we personalize the network to you, which is just a logical step."
UPN enables three components: authentication, role-based administration and service-enabled network edge, according to the company.
As an example of how the offering works, Kanellakis explained that users within an enterprise could connect in locally within the organization and get things like parameters and QoS. And if those users were to go home and connect to the network, exactly the same thing would happen - they would get exactly the same QoS, parameters, capabilities, and access to resources. Even if they were to connect from a client's site, through a VPN connection, the same result would occur.
"So wherever you go, your User Personalized Network follows you, giving you completely the same mobility and security no matter where you happen to be," he said.
But the UPN launch might not help the company as much as Enterasys would like, according to one analyst.
The UPN is "like a lot of Cabletron stuff," according to Dan McLean, research manager with Toronto-based IDC Canada. "It always sounds really interesting and really intriguing and like a great idea, but I guess the challenge for [Enterasys] is to really drive it out into the mainstream of customers and to create...excitement around it. But always with Cabletron, the challenge for them is that things kind of fall flat sometimes."
What Enterasys does have going for it with this announcement, according to McLean, is its focus on security.
The user Personalized Network supports the IEEE's 802.1x standard for port-based access control. Kanellakis also said the offering complements the company's recently announced Secure Harbour architecture, the company's approach to security, which enables organizations to monitor, control or block access to network resources. Network administrators and managers can deploy security rules and provide authentication at all entry points, Kanellakis explained.
McLean noted, "I haven't heard of any other company with that inherent security piece that they're talking about - this issue of having security built-in to the fabric of what they're doing. That sounds pretty unique. I've heard a lot of companies talk about personalized networking or personalized content delivery for users, but I have yet to hear anybody add in that security piece, so that might be a strong differentiator for [Enterasys], given the concern that there is about security."
But what it also comes down to for Enterasys, according to McLean, is strategy. He said that from what he has seen, the company needs to figure one out.
And that seems to be something the firm is trying to address. Enterasys Networks of Canada last month announced the appointment of its new Canadian vice-president and general manager, Paul Johnston. He noted that Enterasys does have a focus, and will attempt to make that clear through its partnerships and relationships with its customers.
"Our key mission and vision we have going forward from a company point of view...are channels, customers and the partners," Johnston explained in an interview with Network World Canada. "The other thing that's key to the strategy as a company is that we're vertically focused, in that we're going to really focus heavily on what we call the enterprise-based solutions for our end users. So the partners and the value-added resellers is how we're going to market."