Secure networking boxes get more resiliency

A new line of network appliances and updated software from Neoteris Inc. is designed to add the capability for smooth failure-recovery to secure connections between companies and their partners and remote employees.

The company's "instant virtual extranet" (IVE) appliances sit behind the firewall at a central company facility and lets remote users set up a secure connection to central resources through a standard client system. Two new boxes Neoteris is introducing Monday can be connected in pairs or clusters and "fail over" smoothly if one breaks down. The new version of Neoteris' software, also to be rolled out Monday, also will allow smooth failover on the company's existing devices, said Jason Matlof, vice president of marketing and business development at Neoteris.

Neoteris on Monday will unveil the Access 3000 and Access 5000 devices. The 3000 is intended for customers that want to give business partners secure remote access to data and applications at a company facility, and the 5000 is for companies that expect a high volume of remote-access traffic from both types of users. The 5000 is Neoteris' most powerful product yet, with support for as many as 2,500 concurrent sessions. Two of the 3000s can be linked in a "cluster pair," and as many as eight of the 5000s can be clustered. Also Monday, Neoteris will unveil the Access 1000, designed for companies to give employees secure remote access. That model does not have clustering capability.

The 1000 replaces the current Employee Access product in the Neoteris line, with the new software and slightly higher processing performance, Matlof said. The 3000 replaces the Partner Access product and has significantly greater performance. The 5000 is a new class of device for very large organizations.

The Neoteris devices allow users to log in through a Web browser using standard SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption included in most browsers. Rather than creating a path in to the headquarters network that might be compromised by a hacker, the system only sends the information the employee or partner is using. User authentication systems from third parties can be used with the devices. Once logged in, users can access many kinds of business applications, including IBM Corp.'s Lotus Notes and Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook.

The paired or clustered devices can be used in an "active-passive" setup, with one remaining dormant as long as the other is working properly, or they can all be used at once. The failover function works by having the multiple devices share detailed information about the state of current sessions. That way, one of them can take over for another in case of a failure and quickly recreate those sessions. That capability comes in the latest version of Neoteris software, called IVE 3.0, which can be used to add clustering and smooth failover capability to Neoteris's earlier products. The new software also brings new management features and support for double-byte content such as data in non-European character sets.

The enhancements should help the Neoteris technology move from limited use into mass installations across a company, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston.

"These are the kinds of things you need to adopt to get people to deploy it ubiquitously to all the end users," Kerravala said.

Not having to restart a session in case of system failure improves the user experience, he said.

"You need simplicity of delivery and consistency of experience" to get users to embrace a security technology, Kerravala said.

The Access 1000 will be priced starting at US$9,995, the Access 3000 at $29,995 and the Access 5000 at $39,995. All will be available starting Nov. 27.

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