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Nortel in network security product blitz

'Security in the DNA'

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Nortel Networks is retro-fitting its Alteon Application Security Switch with security features and reinventing the appliance as a security - rather than Web switching - product, much like Blue Coat Systems has done before it.

A marketing programme called 'Security in the DNA' ties Nortel's new portfolio of security products (announced yesterday) together. It sounds somewhat like Cisco's SAFE Blueprint security strategy of building security into network elements.

Turn to Nortel's press release for the product specs. The products included a wide range of extra security features for the Alteon Web switch, firewalls designed for SMEs and SSL VPN technology.

Like Check Point, Nortel is looking to grow share in the emerging SSL VPN remote access market with a software client. Both companies are trying to address the fast emerging market, while seeking to prevent start-ups like Neoteris, Netilla and Aventail eating into their revenues as sales of SSL VPNs begin to outpace those of traditional IPSec-based VPNs.

Also, like Check Point before it, Nortel is putting a greater emphasis on application security and automatic protection against DDoS attacks.

Channel flannel

Much of the success of Nortel's renewed push into the security market will depend of equipping and motivating its channel partners to sell into the potentially lucrative, but largely untapped, SME marketplace.

So Nortel has devised Alteon Expert Advantage Program, a new security certification program for dealers in North America. According to Nortel, the program gives resellers the skills needed to implement application security in large and mid-market companies to "help their customers benefit from secure converged and engaged applications". Vendors certified through the Alteon Expert Advantage Program will attain the "highest level of competence in the design, implementation and operational support" of Alteon security products.

Cisco's security portfolio, including a fuller range of firewall, VPN, intrusion protection and behaviour blocking technologies, is arguably more comprehensive than that of Nortel, which is probably best considered as a challenger in the security market.

Much of what Nortel is doing seems like playing catch up. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it is concentrating on the sweet spots of the network security marketplace. ®

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