Security analysts are not surprised by the sudden demise of Lockdown Networks, given the shaky state of the Network Access Control (NAC) market. But questions abound for those who use Lockdown
A Lockdown spokesperson said in an email Thursday that the vendor is contacting customers and partners directly to provide more information. Certain employees have been retained to oversee the shutdown of the company and entertain offers to Lockdown's intellectual property.
"The company will try to sell some of its assets (technology), and is fortunate enough to be able to give its employees several weeks of severance and a few months of health benefits to help them find their next job," the spokesperson said. "They are smart, talented people who worked very hard and Lockdown is glad to be able to do that for them. The bottom line is that the NAC market is still developing; Lockdown made a go, and in the end, it wasn't enough."
The company invited those with questions to call 206.285.8080 x110. Whatever happens, analysts say customers have reason to be uneasy at the moment.
"I'd be very worried about support for the products," said Eric Maiwald, vice president and service director of security and risk management strategies at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group. "I have not seen any announcement about who might pick up the technology or who might continue the support but if the company just dies, the products will be in limbo."
This is the latest in a series of events indicating trouble for the NAC market. In January, for example, Vernier Networks quietly re-launched itself under a new name, Autonomic Networks, and approach. The company hasn't revealed many details about its new direction, but has noted that it will move away from its heavy NAC focus.
Analysts have suggested the NAC market grew too crowded and that smaller companies would either follow Vernier's lead or go away because far fewer enterprises are adopting the technology than vendors had initially expected or hoped.
Most enterprises seem to have dismissed NAC as too complicated and expensive for their environment, and as 451 Group Senior Analyst Paul Roberts has noted, IT professionals have found ways to bolster access control using the technology they already have instead of investing in new NAC products.
Roberts said Thursday that Lockdown's demise surprised him since he asked the company point-blank in January if they were looking for additional funding and they said no. The vendor also touted some big enterprise wins at the time, including T-Mobile and Chevron.
"Frankly, something precipitous happened and I'm not sure what," he said in an email exchange. "I'm not sure what their story is on product support, but when this kind of thing happens, obviously, it effects other startups and tends to lend credence to the 'go with a name you can trust' argument that larger vendors make all the time in NAC and other areas as well."
Maiwald believes the whole NAC market category was artificial to begin with. NAC is really a control or set of controls and not really a product or a product category, he said, adding that there are different approaches to controlling who and what comes on to the network.
"I'm not surprised that we are seeing some of the smaller NAC vendors disappearing or trying to reinvent themselves," Maiwald said. "NAC is a control or a system. NAC is not a simple product. A control over who is on your network requires quite a few moving parts and that does not even begin to deal with the relationship of network and security groups within an enterprise."
Roger Herbst, senior IT technical specialist for the Canton, Ohio-based Timken Company, said his company is not currently doing anything with NAC because it requires significant infrastructure plus lots of care and feeding.
"To some degree, I see NAC as very similar to PKI, and we all know how well those vendors did over the long haul," Herbst said. "How many years was it 'the year of PKI?' You better have a business case in hand when you ask for the funds to implement a NAC solution. Being a security guy, I want NAC to provide me with compliance checking and perhaps some quarantining. That can be done many ways, but most are highly dependent on what plumbing you have in place."
That said, he's not against doing something with NAC in the future. He has looked at some of the vendors and found one of the better products to be what Sygate offered a few years ago before they were acquired by Symantec Corp.
"The combination of their Enforcer inline devices and their SODA for non-managed systems was quite compelling," he said. "I was simply not able to get all of that deployed at the time. If we do move forward with some kind of NAC solution, I will probably start with Symantec (Sygate) unless there is a compelling reason to look elsewhere. I doubt we will be doing anything like the Cisco or Microsoft solution anytime soon."