Network Access Heats Up With 802.1x Funk

Network access control space continues to heat up as former Cisco partner rolls out a new product for Juniper.
Nine months after it acquired Funk Software for $122 million, Juniper Networks (Quote, Chart) is rolling out network access control (NAC) security products based on Funk's technology.

Memo to Cisco and Microsoft. Your competition in the NAC sector is heating up.

Funk Software's two flagship products are the Odyssey Access Client (OAC) and Steel-Belted Radius (SBR). OAC is an 802.1x supplicant, which is defined a piece of software that provides access to an 802.1x- enabled network.

802.1x is an IEEE standard that provides for port-based security.

Oliver Tavakoli, vice president of engineering at Juniper (and the former CTO of Funk Software), explained that 802.1x helps a network figure out at a port-by-port level who is accessing the network and what kind of access to allow.

The Steel Belted Radius (SBR) product is the authentication server; it figures out who the client is and makes decisions about whether to let the client on the network.

Juniper's latest release hits the market as its chief rival, Cisco Systems (Quote, Chart) ramps up its own technology and acquisitions in the increasingly competitive 802.1x and network access control space.

The 802.1x protocol is widely considered the standard in the nascent network access control market. It should come as no surprise then, that technologies based on 802.1x are coveted by the key players in network access control market, including Cisco, Juniper and Microsoft (Quote, Chart).

Both SBR and OAC were available prior to Juniper's Funk acquisition but have been upgraded. OAC version 4.5 provides additional configuration options that aim to provide greater network connection control than previous versions. SBR version 5.4 adds new diagnostic tools and additional configuration management features.

Prior to the Juniper acquisition, Funk had been working with Cisco. Post acquisition, however, is a different story. All those arrangements have gone away.

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