ConSentry has announced a new switch combining its identity management with network access control technology.

Previously, the company sold the technology as an appliance but now the LANShield Switch, described as an enterprise-class switch that integrates the security features needed to secure every user and every port on the LAN, integrates the technology further into the fabric of the network. The benefit is that traffic from existing switches can be secured, according to ConSentry.

The company said the technology supports both pre-admission and post-admission controls, and provides enterprises with a way of controlling access to resources and applications on the LAN. Others benefits include more customisable admission control; automatic authentication; and a simplified incident response.

As an example application, Jeff Prince, ConSentry's founder and CTO, cited a customer consisting of three partners working together on a project for three years who wanted to be sure that their data was not inter-mingled. "This ensures their data is not mixed up when they split", said Prince.

Prince said that he was aiming at Cisco's heartland. "They promised but failed to deliver on the self-defending network over the last five years. We're delivering on the Cisco vision of the self defending network without the cost premium", he said. "And it's in a blue, Cisco-style box using the IOS command line interface, so it fits right in, since our customers are Cisco users."

According to Infonetics analyst Jeff Wilson, the network access control market is fast-growing. "To combat the constant headaches security issues cause, enterprises are investing heavily in NAC (network access control) and content security at the gateway, particularly anti-virus, anti-spyware, and SPAM filtering products and services," he said.

"There is massive potential for NAC," Wilson said. "The number-one driver for deploying NAC is protecting corporate resources from unauthorised users. This is really the strong point of NAC, and the most commonly listed benefit of rolling out NAC solutions."

Prince also said that the company was looking into the possibility of shipping the product as a virtual appliance, but the business model needed to be right. ConSentry said that it has deployed LANShield systems capable of controlling more than half-a-million end users.

The LANShield Switch costs £8,500.