In an effort to provide relief to companies struggling with IP address management, MetaInfo Inc. has released a pair of dedicated network appliances that provide an extra security layer on enterprise networks.
The Seattle-based company hopes the pair will not only solidify its status alongside Cisco Systems Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc. as a top-tier IP address management player, but also draw attention to an aspect of network management that many businesses ignore.
The new MetaInfo Appliance 250 and 500 Series appliances are designed solely for monitoring threats to a company's domain name system (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services.
MetaInfo CEO Grant Asplund said the appliances can eliminate a problem that many network managers face: authorized users who sign onto the network with virus-infected PCs. For instance, he said in most instances the network doesn't learn a PC has a virus until it's already spreading.
Asplund said MetaInfo's appliances enable PCs to be virus-scanned before being given full network access. If a machine is infected, it is logged on with a quarantined IP address that allows the user to only access the company's virus-removal tools. Once the PC is clean, Asplund said it is allowed to leave the "walled garden" and gain full network access.
The appliances are intended to work with a new version of the company's Meta IP software for managing IP addresses, as well as DNS and DHCP services.
New version 5.5 supports more complex business process rules and a full PHP framework that enables outside organizations to interact securely with a company's RADIUS server or Active Directory domain controller. The software can also be used without the appliances on a company's own Windows, Solaris or Linux server.
While the IP address management space isn't expected to enjoy significant growth until 2005, it is an important aspect of network management, said Thomas Mendel, principal analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.
"I've seen a huge number of examples where people hacked mobile phones and did terrible things, such as rerouting everyone that called a certain person on another person's phone," said Mendel. "If that happens and you're a salesperson waiting for a decision or an update from someone, you may never get it."
Another reason to consider IP address management technology is IP roaming. Mendel said that as enterprises scale their wireless LANs and increase the number of IP-enabled devices using them, it's going to become much more difficult to keep track of all those devices without a product dedicated to the task.
Mendel said Cisco, Lucent and MetaInfo, which is a former subsidiary of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., are the top three companies in the IP address management market. Even though Metalnfo is trying to catch up to the other two, he said the company is mature enough to compete by exploiting the advantage of having a product that's easy to implement.
The MetaInfo Appliance 250 Series is priced at $2,995, and the 500 Series costs $3,995, though a discount is available when purchased with a new Meta IP software license. The annual license cost for the enterprise edition of Meta IP 5.5 starts at $10,995 and includes 1,000 IP addresses.