Microsoft has said that hardware makers will sell its forthcoming Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 software preinstalled on hardware appliances.
Hewlett-Packard, Celestix Networks and Network Engines will be the first hardware makers to offer appliances based on ISA Server, a firewall, virtual private network (VPN) and web cache product, Microsoft announced at its Tech Ed conference in San Diego. The products will compete with appliances sold by CheckPoint Software Technologies, Cisco Systems and others.
Selling ISA Server preinstalled on an appliance has two major advantages, said Gordon Mangione, a corporate vice-president in Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit. The appliance offers simple configuration and improved security, he said.
"Because we know an appliance is a single-purpose device, we can harden the device much more than we can when installing the software on top of a basic operating system," Mangione said.
HP will start selling the ProLiant DL320 firewall, VPN and caching server running ISA Server 2004 in the third quarter. The product will cost $3,000 and will be aimed mostly at mid-sized companies and organisations in the public sector.
Celestix plans to start selling its MSA4000 firewall, VPN and caching appliance beginning in the third quarter for $2,495. Network Engines said it will offer a firewall for Microsoft's Exchange Server e-mail product, but did not announce pricing or availability.
ISA Server is designed to help users protect Microsoft applications, such as the Exchange e-mail server, Internet Information Services (IIS) Web server and SharePoint collaboration tools. ISA Server offers application filters for these and other Microsoft products.
Both Microsoft and HP expect the appliances to be used as an application-specific second layer of defence when used in large organisations and as the only firewall product in smaller organisations.
Microsoft also announced pricing for ISA Server 2004 Standard Edition. The product will cost $1,499 per processor and is due in the third quarter, Microsoft said. An Enterprise Edition of the product is due by year's end, the company said.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service