Alcatel-Lucent has announced a Web Services network-security appliance intended to secure access to content and monitor for unauthorised transmission.

The Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess 8550 Web Services Gateway can be installed within the organisation's data centre or Internet perimeter 'de-militarised zone' (DMZ) to monitor XML-based traffic, said Cliff Grossner, Alcatel-Lucent product manager. The appliance acts as a secure proxy for application flow, inspecting packets to determine whether an end-user or machine is authorised to gain access to data.

"Microsoft Active Directory can be used for the role-identification information," says Grossner. "If there are policy violations, the OmniAccess 8550 can block them or notify the manager. This XML message inspection is to ensure information privacy."

The OmniAccess 8550 Web Services Gateway, managed through a Web browser, is Alcatel-Lucent's first security appliance, but the strategy is to develop a range of security products, particularly those that could play a role in "the trend to de-perimeterisation," says Michel Emelianoff, vice president of enterprise security activities at the Paris-based company.

"The traditional firewall is not efficient enough for the perimeter, so we see it as an opportunity."

Advocate Health Care, the Oakbrook, Illinois-based healthcare provider with over half a dozen hospitals and several clinic sites, is testing the OmniAccess 8550 gateway with an eye toward using it to set up authorised access to patient-care records as the hospital adopts Web Services.

"With its role-based access, there can be a physician role, for instance, and we can use this as the gateway to patient-care applications," says Eric Kinzle, technical specialist at Advocate Health Care. The basic concept, he says, is to require application headers to always ask the gateway for authorisation. "There may be hundreds of applications but the gateway is always in the middle," says Kinzle.

The Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess 8550 Web Services Gateway, available now, starts at $125,000.