09.26.08

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Novell’s Got the NAC

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, Security, Standard, Windows at 10:42 am by Shane Coyle

But not for Linux… yet

It appears that Novell’s ZENworks is gaining some Network Access Control (NAC) functionality, a product of their Senforce acquisition. As Sean Michael Kerner points out over at Enterprise Networking Planet, there is some confusion about Novell’s NAC implementation as it relates to Linux. Specifically, at this point, Novell is not supporting Linux endpoints – not SUSE, no one.

Apparently, it was a ‘business decision’ to go forward with a mainly Windows-compatible feature set, despite the fact that the NAC is actually running on a Linux kernel, albeit a customized non-SUSE one. I guess that Novell doesn’t see much of a Linux market out there, which is weird because it appears that Red Hat does.

The surprises don’t end there. Although ZENworks NAC is built on top of a Linux kernel, it does not actually support the OS as an enforcement endpoint. Ferre explained that Linux support wasn’t a priority because Novell sees a higher demand for Windows-compatible solutions, owing to the density of Windows devices in the enterprise.

“It was a decision on coming to market,” Ferre said. “We needed to either deliver on what is in the most demand and get to market sooner, or we could have held off and release at a later date. Based on where the market is today, we wanted to move forward immediately rather than wait for Linux compatibility.”

Still, he added that Linux support may be in the works.

“We are offering testing capability on Windows and Mac OS X,” Ferre said. “Linux is a logical extension since we have SUSE Linux, and it is something we will be looking at in the near term.”

In addition, the article notes that the ZENworks NAC does not – again “at this point” – support the Trusted Network Content (TNC) standard, something that even Microsoft is apparently doing with their own Network Access Protection (NAP). (Is it really necessary for them to use a seperate, nearly identical, acronym for their offering – what’s wrong with “NAC” Microsoft? Do we need more acronyms for the same thing?) This lack of TNC support is despite the fact that Novell characterizes TNC as a vendor-neutral open standard, and “the way things will go”. Still, TNC compatibility is not yet in the works “at this point”, and Linux support merely “may be” in the works.

It just seems to me like Novell is rushing this product to market, in order to claim “me too!” when other vendors speak of their having Network Access Control products available, and in the process appear to be quite disorganized and give the appearance that Linux endpoints are either few and far between and therefore not worthy of the development investment, or just not a priority to Novell – a self proclaimed “Linux Company”.

This one has them seeming more and more like the “Windows Complement” some had foreseen.

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7 Comments

  1. pcole said,

    September 26, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Gravatar

    So novell announces NAC and it’s for ms-based pc’s; but ms has NAP for ms-based pc’s. Then it says NAC has a proprietary Linux kernel. It’s duplicating what is already out there for win pc’s.

    What’s novell’s point in doing so?

  2. Shane Coyle said,

    September 26, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Likely to position ZENworks as a complete, integrated, solution. The idea of integrating in endpoint security is probably not a bad one, but to position yourself as the “Mixed Source” company that is ideal for managing heterogeneous IT environments but not even begin developing the features for your own OS seems quite rushed and ill-conceived, regardless of the market share numbers.

    Also, just recently Ron Hovsepian (Novell CEO) spoke regarding the importance of vendor’s adherence to open standards, something that the NAC feature has come up short in as well.

    Still, Hovsepian said that the reality for most IT shops today is mixed environments in which Linux runs alongside Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)’s Windows OS and other platforms. “You’re going to have Linux and you’re going to have Windows,” said Hovsepian, who was named CEO of Novell in June 2006.

    That fact, Hovsepian said, means that IT departments are going to face integration and interoperability challenges. “Making IT work as one is what we have to do today,” he said. To that end, IT managers need to lean on their vendors to make sure they are building products that support open standards, which help ensure interoperability. “Leverage your ecosystem,” said Hovsepian.

    Maybe they should have left this one in the oven a bit longer, it just seems a bit raw.

  3. bob said,

    September 28, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Gravatar

    Let me guess: had Novell published a version of NAC for Linux, that news would have been more proof that Microsoft is trying to kill Linux. However, since the facts state that Novell is solely supporting Windows, Novell is now ignoring the existing the Linux market.

    I guess Novell are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  4. Shane Coyle said,

    September 28, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Gravatar

    "had Novell published a version of NAC for Linux, that news would have been more proof that Microsoft is trying to kill Linux. "

    Huh? I just call things the way I see them, disagree if you wish. Feel free to try to convince me I’m wrong…

  5. bob said,

    September 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Gravatar

    Oh, you are not Schestowitz.

    When I made that post, I was referring to Schestowitz’s propensity to jump to conclusions when the subject remotely includes either Microsoft or Novell. He has the nasty habit of looking for conspiracies using circumstantial evidence and shoddy evidence (he cites his own insubstantial evidence as fact).

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 1, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Gravatar

    Citation like that is a matter of convenience because it’s faster (for technical reasons).

  7. Phentermine pharmacy. said,

    October 26, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Phentermine….

    Phentermine….

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