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Juniper Infranets the Enterprise

Less than a week after making some hefty enterprise networking acquisitions valued at nearly half a billion dollars, Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) stepped up its full-frontal assault on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today, announcing a new technical program to bolster security in enterprise networks (see Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline).

Juniper has launched a security approach called the Enterprise Infranet Initiative, an apparent offshoot of its carrier plan, the Infranet Initiative, which has already resulted in some posturing and verbal sparring between Juniper and Cisco (see Juniper's Infranet Takes Baby Steps and Cisco Heckles Infranet Initiative). At the heart of the strategy is a new device called the Infranet Controller, which is based on Junipers own SSL VPN technology.

The controller uses an SSL VPN-based policy engine to provision software agents on devices such as PCs and laptops, according to Juniper execs. This agent then helps enforce centrally managed security policies, such as preventing non-compliant PCs from connecting to the network, which could make VPNs far more pervasive and easy to implement.

How will Juniper help IT staff manage the security networks? The controller will initially link up firewalls, and Juniper plans to eventually bring routers, intrusion detection and prevention devices, and SSL VPN technology into the mix.

Of course, Cisco's got its own plans for locking down the enterprise. Cisco’s key weapon in this struggle is its Network Admission Control (NAC) initiative, which enforces security policy compliance across different devices. NAC was launched back in November 2003, and Cisco has been slowly adding flesh to the bones of the strategy since (see Cisco Unveils New Network Solution and Cisco Sets Out Security Strategy).

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