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WAN Controller Gains Security Features

The boundary lines between network and security functions have become blurrier recently. In response, one WAN controller supplier has integrated security features in its product, a change designed to make it easier for small and medium companies to manage their WAN connections.Ecessa, which changed its name from Astrocom earlier this month, added integrated firewall and Virtual Private Network (VPN) gateway features to its ShieldLink family of WAN controllers. ShieldLink provides channel bonding features, so multiple WAN links (i.e. cable, xDSL, T1, wireless) can be combined into one large network connection. The product line includes automated inbound and outbound load balancing and failover features that help companies improve network availability. The devices appeal to small and medium businesses with a variety of locations, such as remote offices and telecommuters.

Prices for the WAN controllers range from about $1,200 to approximately $8,000. The integrated security features add about $500 to the purchasing price for each controller. The new feature creates virtual tunnels and encrypts traffic using the IPsec protocol. The integration is designed to simplify deployments and reduce the number of devices that companies have to manage.

However, integrating the security features into the controllers does have its downsides. Companies have been moving away from IPSec security to SSL, a feature that the company may add in the future. Also the controller becomes a central point of failure, so a problem with it could negatively impact application availability. Also, the more features that run on a device, the more processing power it needs. In some cases, a controller could become constrained at certain times in the day. Ecessa has focused on serving small and medium businesses and now has an integrated appliance to offer those companies that want to consolidate their network and security functions.