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Meru Invites Guest Management Firm Identity Networks into the Fold

A major wireless vendor with a presence in the education market has purchased a small technology firm for its expertise in network guest management. Silicon Valley-based Meru Networks has acquired UK-based Identity Networks, which sells guest and device access management applications. Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal.

The Identity Networks product, Guest Manager, has been used across the Meru installed base as an integrated, third-party security solution. It provides provisioning capabilities and automatic notification services that give guests access credentials by e-mail or SMS. It also includes reporting, auditing, and customization capabilities.

According to Meru's Kamal Anand, senior vice president of product management, the acquisition "enhances our security portfolio and allows us to provide a much stronger solution into the verticals we serve." The two companies already had channel partners in common that were packaging the solutions together to serve the needs of customers.

Identity Management also sells Policy Manager, software that helps organizations issue and enforce operating procedures, policies, and staff notifications.

Guest Manager will replace Meru's existing captive portal technology. "The Meru solution was effectively only for wireless. It had a limited set of features," Anand said, describing it as a "a rudimentary system that allows you to provide a screen for people to log in."

Identity Networks' product offers several advantages, he added. "You get a much more effective, scalable solution. It lets you track where users went. It's a system that provides both wired and wireless management of guests. And [it works] across heterogeneous wireless LAN networks."

He noted that Guest Manager also decreases the IT burden of guest provisioning and management as guests can be given access by non-IT personnel such as reception and administrative staff members.

"Enterprises must provide secure, auditable access to hundreds, or even thousands of devices that enter the enterprise daily," Anand said. "Provisioning, managing, and securing network access for guest and employee owned WiFi devices can be a tedious and inefficient process--especially as the number and variety of devices multiplies within the environment. The addition of Identity Networks to the Meru family of security products builds upon our already strong security offerings, and provides another important component of overall network security. These advancements are critical as we look forward to the all wireless enterprise of the future."

Anand noted that the product will continue to work within non-Meru wireless environments that include gear from Cisco, Aruba Networks, and other companies.

"Customers always have heterogeneous environments, especially in a campus environment.... Similarly if you have a user that is plugging in wirelessly but then goes into a conference room and plugs into a wired network, you want to make sure the same services, polices, authentication, and password mechanisms all work across the wired and wireless networks. With Identity Management now, we'll be able to deliver that kind of solution to end user organizations."

The integration work has already started, Anand said. He expected Meru-branded appliances to be available starting in early October. The Guest Manager will have two flavors. Customers will be able to download a "software appliance," a VMware virtual edition that can be run on existing hardware with VMware infrastructure. Or they can purchase a hardware appliance edition.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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