Funk Software and Network Engines are releasing a jointly developed security appliance for authenticating remote users connecting to corporate WANs as well as users on wireless LANs.
Network Engines built and will distribute the hardware, which runs remote end-user authentication and authorisation software developed by Funk.
The combined product is a rack-mountable device that runs under Windows 2000 Professional, according to the two companies.
One early user cites size and ease of use as advantages of thje new system. Care New England Health System deployed an early version of the appliance last month, said Larry Pesce, a LAN/WAN specialist at the healthcare company.
So far, about two dozen end users have used the appliance for network authentication over dial-up laptop connections or to gain access to Care New England's 802.11 WLANs, Pesce said. Within weeks, the use of the device will be scaled up to handle about 1,000 medical personnel at three major facilities and other locations.
The appliance not only provides authentication services but also manages the configuration process, Pesce said. It would have taken several days or weeks to buy server hardware and configure it, taking up valuable time for Care New England's IT staff, he noted. But the new appliance "just worked out of the box, no headaches at all".
The company bought and installed two of the appliances for about $30,000 (£19,000), which was 10% cheaper than regular server hardware, according to Pesce. The appliance also takes up very little space in Care New England's cramped datacenter, he said.
Funk competes with major vendors such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft, which also sell authentication tools that support the Internet Engineering Task Force's Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (Radius) protocol. "But Funk often gets in the door for ease of use," said John Girard, an analyst at Gartner .
The market for Radius-based remote authentication products and services is expanding, Girard said, adding that appliances combining hardware with software are fashionable now, partly because they provide all-in-one capabilities to users.