Not that anyone needs further convincing that network access control (NAC) tools are becoming the "holy grail" of network security, a recent study by Infonetics Research predicts the market for all NAC enforcement will grow an astronomical 1,101% over three years.
According to the study, released last week by the Campbell, Calif.-based research firm, revenue from NAC enforcement will skyrocket from $323 million in 2005 to $3.9 billion in 2008.
"Network access control, or NAC, is considered the holy grail of network security, as it is an intelligent network infrastructure that can identify users, identify and do integrity checks on the computers they are using, and then grant them access to specific locations and/or resources and set policies based on user and machine identity," the report states.
The report focuses primarily on NAC enforcement appliances, including network integrated enforcement devices, appliances and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPNs for NAC enforcement, which are expected to have the most dramatic increase.
"By far the largest portion of NAC enforcement revenue between now and 2008 comes from network-integrated enforcement devices, but the biggest change is in NAC enforcement appliances, whose share of the market nearly triples between 2005 and 2008," according to the report's author, Infonetics principal analyst, Jeff Wilson.
The report identifies the "three big guns" that are taking advantage of the booming NAC market: Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp. and the Trusted Computing Group. Cisco and Microsoft both have their own NAC solutions, with the latter calling it NAP, short for network access protection. The Trusted Computing Group is an independent consortium working on standard implementations for NAC.
The report also highlights that several more companies are emerging with NAC systems, since the hot market is becoming a breeding ground for startups. Some startups that have started to fill the NAC space include InfoExpress, Lockdown and Vernier Networks.
While some of the many startups are likely to find their niche in the vast, growing NAC market, the report said Cisco's NAC framework is the most recognized of the three major players, followed closely by Microsoft. The Trusted Computing Group's Trusted Network Connect NAC options place a distant third.
Over the next three years, as the market for NAC tools begins to consolidate, Infonetics predicts the NAC enforcement appliance segment alone will start to see dramatic growth this year, ultimately shooting up 3,062% between 2005 and 2008.
Along with the overall explosion of NAC enforcement devices, the study also suggests that the market for SSL VPNs for NAC enforcement will see a 798% growth over the same time period.
Infonetics said the most common type will be Ethernet switches that support 802.1x and work with NAC clients and policy servers.