Today’s panel on NAC was a blast! Mike Fratto mainly took questions from the audience. When there were slow spots, he asked some tough questions of his own. I prefer this approach to panels. Customers have the most interesting, real-world questions!
I was surprised how many of today’s questions focused on standards. The attendees were impatient with the delays in getting NAC standards implemented. I share their impatience. The TNC standards have been around for more than four years. They’ve been implemented by Juniper, Microsoft, and dozens of other vendors. Why don’t other vendors just implement them?
Steve Karkula of Nokia was a welcome addition to the usual cast of characters on a NAC panel: Cisco, Microsoft, and TCG. Steve is involved with Nokia’s SourceFire product. He pointed out the value of including behavior monitoring in a NAC system. I couldn’t agree more! These days, NAC is much more than checking the health of devices when they connect to your network. State-of-the-art NAC systems customize access for each user or role and monitor behavior so they can block misbehaving endpoints. Really cool systems link identity and behavior monitoring so that they know what behavior’s appropriate for each user!
An interesting followup question was how to monitor behavior when more network traffic is encrypted. The panelists had a variety of answers: doing monitoring on the servers, on the endpoints (only if you trust them!), or at the edge of the data center (if you terminate the encryption there, as is often done with load balancers, SSL offload devices, and such).
All in all, it was an interesting panel. I’m sorry if you couldn’t be there. I hope to see you at one of my upcoming talks!