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LANDesk Moves into Hardware with SSL Management Gateway

Management software vendor LANDesk today announced the Management Gateway Appliance, its first hardware product. Intended for management of laptops and other PCs located outside the firewall, the box uses SSL VPN hardware from Avocent, making it also the first integration between the two companies since Avocent acquired LANDesk in April last year.

Like other remote management systems, the LANDesk appliance uses agents installed on client PCs. The difference is that the new agents automatically connect to the appliance through an SSL VPN, meaning the appliance can manage laptops whenever they are connected to the Internet. LANDesk's previous agents only enabled remote control when on the same network as their server, meaning that IT had to rely on laptop users setting up a VPN tunnel --- something users are often reluctant to do, as VPNs can reduce performance of applications like VOIP.

Because the SSL link only connects the agent and the appliance, it doesn't route all the laptop's Internet traffic through the enterprise network. This means the appliance can also act as means of quarantine, preventing an infected laptop transmitting malware to the network, though it isn't a true NAC system. the infected laptop could still be carried into a building and connect to the network through Wi-Fi or Ethernet, bypassing the gateway altogether

The appliance will appeal to IT managers who want an extra degree of control over mobile users. However, customers will need to be careful in setting policies, as the management agent removes the end user's ability to control bandwidth consumption. For example, forcing downloads of large security patches over a slow dial-up link or an EDGE connection that charges per packet is rarely appropriate.

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