Zeroing in on Security Administration

NetScreen's Global Pro apps ease configuration of firewall, VPN devices.

Todays security consciousness plus the current economic climate often equals networks with an increasing number of safety devices but no additional personnel to administer them. To close the gap, NetScreen Technologies Inc. will roll out at months end two management applications to simplify the configuration of its firewall and VPN devices.

NetScreens Global Pro 3.0 and Global Pro Express make security application administration easier by allowing network managers to configure large numbers of devices from one computer. Rather than making changes to network security device by device, a manager can set a policy for a group of security devices and virtual private network clients and rapidly respond to attacks.

At Alliente Inc., a procurement service provider in Colorado Springs, Colo., one network administrator manages between 15 and 20 firewalls, and the company expects to double its security devices without increasing the IT team.

"[Global Pro Express] will let me manage all of these [firewalls] from one console," said Gregson Siu, chief technology officer at Alliente. "Thats important to me because we plan to double our clients, but Ive got a very small staff, and I cannot afford to hire more people. Were a young startup."

As security installations grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for IT personnel to manage the network on a device-by-device basis. Global Pro 3.0 not only enables group policy configuration, it also provides monitoring of security events and reporting. It configures and monitors as many as 10,000 NetScreen security systems and appliances, allowing an administrator to make one policy change that is translated to hundreds of thousands of policies.

Global Pro Express is built for smaller installations of up to 100 security devices.

Security products have fared much better than other networking products in terms of sales since the slowing economy began to affect IT spending early this year.

While analysts expect the trend to continue, it is unclear whether security concerns resulting from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will accelerate it. "Vendors are seeing increased interest and increased call volumes since Sept. 11, but that hasnt really translated into dollars yet," said Jeff Wilson, executive director of Infonetics Research Inc., in San Jose, Calif. "When it does accelerate sales, its probably going to offset the decrease from the economic downturn."