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Startup Of The Week: Napera Brings NAC To Small And Medium Enterprises

The company's switches communicate with Microsoft NAP agents to keep unhealthy machines off the network.

Tired of unpatched or malware-infected PCs ruining your day? Napera's N24 switch works with Microsoft's Network Access Protection to help small and midsize businesses ensure that only healthy machines get network access. Management information is sent to Napera's data center, and admins manage the switches from a browser.
--Andrew Conry-Murray

NAPERA NETWORKS


Hooper, Slatt, and Boscolo aim to switch on network health

Hooper, Slatt, and Boscolo aim to switch on network health

HEADQUARTERS: Mercer Island, Wash.

PRODUCTS: Napera N24, N24S appliances

PRINCIPALS: Todd Hooper, co-founder and CEO; Chris Slatt, co-founder and chairman; Chris Boscolo, co-founder and CTO

INVESTORS: OVP Venture Partners

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Beta customers

WHAT'S DIFFERENT?
Napera combines two hot technologies--network access control and software as a service--into a package aimed at organizations with 50 to 1,000 users. The company's switches leverage Network Access Protection (NAP), Microsoft's agent for checking the health of PCs, which comes installed on a variety of Microsoft operating systems.

CONTROL KNOBS
Napera's access switches communicate with the NAP agent, which checks a PC's health status. Administrators can then allow or deny access, or send the machine to a VLAN for remediation. NAP usually relies on DHCP for access control, but clever users can circumvent it. Napera's switch-based system is much harder to sneak around. On the SaaS side, Napera's data center collects information from the switches. Admins use a Web browser to manage the devices and polices and to generate reports.

THE COMPETITION
Customers don't need Napera to use NAP. Cisco NAC also dominates, but it targets enterprises. InfoExpress, Juniper Networks, Sophos, StillSecure, and Symantec also compete, among others.

BACKGROUND
Napera grew out of conversations with small and midsize businesses that were frustrated by infected or vulnerable machines getting on their networks, whether from mobile employees or guests, CEO Hooper says. He knew the product had to be simple and inexpensive: "These customers don't have six-figure security budgets." All three founders share a history at WatchGuard Technologies, a pioneer of low-cost security appliances. Chairman Slatt founded WatchGuard and led it to an IPO.

TIMELINE

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