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Microsoft uses Whale technology in new gateway device

Intelligent Application Gateway helps IT managers balance remote access with network security in a single piece of hardware.

Microsoft has incorporated security technology from Whale Communications into a gateway device that will reportedly make it easier for IT managers to protect their enterprise networks while giving remote workers safer access.

The Intelligent Application Gateway, or IAG 2007, combines in a single device Whale's Secure Sockets Layer virtual private networking technology with Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server, called ISA Server. Microsoft acquired Fort Lee, N.J.-based Whale last year in a deal that was expected to add granularity to the software giant's existing access security products.

The gateway is available now only through two security hardware vendors: Celestix Networks Inc. in Fremont, Calif., and Network Engines Inc. in Canton, Mass.

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SSL technology continues to increase in popularity for providing remote access because it is easier to administer and has lower costs associated with it compared to other technologies, said Joel Sloss, senior product manager of Microsoft's Edge and Security Access Group.

"Security and access have to go together. For most IT managers it's a balancing act providing remote access yet securing their IT infrastructure from exploits," Sloss said.

Microsoft integrated the Whale technology so it could offer customers a single, consolidated appliance for remote access, network perimeter defense, application-layer protection and end-point security management, Sloss said. The device can be used in mixed networks where other products are used with Microsoft products, he said, including IBM Domino and Notes, SAP and Peoplesoft.

Microsoft chose to release IAG 2007 through security appliance makers because that's how customers usually buy this type of technology, Sloss said. Also, by working with hardware vendors, it means Microsoft does not have to be in the hardware business itself, an area it generally avoids so it can concentrate on software development and sales, he said.

"I tip my hat to Microsoft for recognizing that this could be optimized quickly for Windows," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Boston, Mass.-based Yankee Group, a technology research group. Kerravala said that Windows shops have a need for a device like this. "It will definitely get more than just a look," he said.

Microsoft said it is also simplifying its pricing for the gateway appliance, basing the price of client access licenses on the total number of authenticated users or devices instead of how many users are on the system at the same time. The prices range from $15,000 for large companies and between $6,000 and $13,000, depending on the size of the company.

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