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NetGuard adds network management

Firewall vendor NetGuard is jumping into the bandwidth management space with a product dubbed Guidepost, due to ship next month.

Another firewall vendor, NetGuard, is jumping into the bandwidth management space, following firewall leader Check Point (CHPKF).

NetGuard's Guidepost, due to ship next month, hopes to benefit from booming corporate use of the Internet and the steady growth of Windows NT in enterprises. A subsidiary of Israel-based LANoptics (LNOPF), NetGuard's product runs only on NT.

Bandwidth management refers to the growing demand for capacity on corporate networks resulting from Internet access, multimedia applications, intranets, and extranets. Bandwidth management in general sets policies on what priorities will be given to specific users, groups, or applications.

"Corporations of all sizes are talking about bandwidth management, which affects not just the MIS department but the CFO, human resources--even the CEO," said Peter Jacobs, NetGuard's vice president of marketing. With a firewall, the Guidepost software provides "Internet connection control," he added.

NetGuard's Guidepost software is targeted to corporate network managers and ISPs that need to allocate bandwidth among several customers. Its policy-based management tools let administrators guarantee access to Internet, intranet, or extranet connections and set maximum and minimum levels of service.

Bandwidth management tries to get around the "first come, first served" approach for allocating capacity. Several approaches have emerged. The capability can be built into network routers, special-purpose hardware devices such as Packeteer's, or software from NetGuard and Check Point. Check Point said its FloodGate software is now shipping on Solaris and is due to ship on NT in March.

An Internet standard called RSVP has emerged for handling capacity-hogging multimedia applications, but NetGuard's software does not support that standard.

Guidepost uses NetGuard's MAC-Layer stateful inspection technology, also used in NetGuard's Guardian firewall. Scheduled to ship in mid-February, Guidepost pricing begins at $3,995 for 50 users. NetGuard sells through resellers but makes demo versions of its software available from its Web site.

Guidepost uses an interface that shows graphically how bandwidth is prioritized among network users and applications, and it monitors connections in real time, giving administrators a live view of network traffic. It also works with firewalls from any provider, not just NetGuard's.