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Vendor Briefings - 24 May 2005

Keeping IM in Hand
As IM gains ground as a business tool, managing and protecting IM users becomes a higher priority. IM-related security risks are on the rise, according to the security specialists at Akonix Systems. The company briefed me about its approach to preventing damage from IM-spread viruses and worms such as Kelvir-C and FATSO.A.

Akonix provides several products to help you manage and secure your organization’s IM operations. The company’s solutions are available as software that can run on Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 servers or as a preconfigured 1U (1.75") appliance. Akonix solutions, which work with all major IM systems, let you set controls and configure policies to map internal IM users to their Active Directory (AD) accounts, filter incoming and outgoing IM communications according to keyword or regular expression, scan content for viruses or other malicious or restricted content, and restrict IM use according to user, group, or domain.

ATEN KVM Solutions Charging to Market
In a recent conversation with ATEN's Edgar Haren (product manager), Lewis Lustman (marketing manager), and Jeffrey Williams (sales manager), we learned about the company's dual branding of ATEN and Altusen connectivity solutions and keyboard/video/mouse (KVM) products. According to Edgar, the ATEN brand is designated to the small-to-midsized business (SMB) space, whereas the Altusen brand is more in tune to the enterprise arena.

Responding to security-related events such as September 11, 2001, many companies today are moving to redundant data centers and remote sites to limit single points of failure. ATEN's KVM products accommodate such remote server management across potentially long distances. Another trend is a move to serial KVM solutions. To those ends, ATEN wants you (and its Value Added Resellers—VARs) to know about its upcoming KVM-over-wireless products, its multiplatform KVM solutions, and its remote-power-management products. Prepare yourself for ATEN's charge into the market!

Kashya Tackles Replication Riddle
I recently spoke with Mehran Hadipour, Kashya's vice president of marketing, about the company's approach to enterprise data replication and protection. Appropriately, kashya is an Aramaic word that means "riddle" or "difficult problem," which is exactly what Kashya's unique solutions are tackling. According to Mehran, the company's latest development, the KBX5000 Data Replication Appliance for the Cisco MDS 9500 SANTap Service, offers a whole new approach to replication that's not based on arrays. The KBX5000 is an enterprise-class disaster-recovery product that connects to the SAN and IP infrastructure and provides bidirectional data replication across any distance for heterogeneous storage and server environments. SANTap functionality is enabled through the Storage Services Module (SSM) linecard. The Kashya solution eliminates host agents and performance bottlenecks and continuously replicates data from any server, across any distance, between any storage media.

Exchange Archiving Without MAPI
How long does your Microsoft Exchange Server backup take? Your answer probably depends on whether you perform brick-level backups. Exchange backup products use either the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) backup API to quickly back up the entire Exchange Store or the Messaging API (MAPI) for brick-level access to individual messages. But MAPI is slow and has quite a performance impact on Exchange.

Mimosa Systems recently showed me NearPoint, an Exchange archiving solution that offers the best of both worlds. Mimosa NearPoint uses ESE to back up the entire Exchange Store, but it can read message-level data directly from this backup, allowing you to view messages directly from NearPoint. And because NearPoint uses MAPI only for restore operations, brick-level backups won’t put MAPI processor loads on your Exchange servers.

Network Instruments Taps into nTAP
Network Instruments president Douglas Smith recently provided us with an engaging overview of his company's recently announced nTAP line of network-analysis devices. Recognizing an increasing demand for accurate analysis of full-duplex gigabit networks, Network Instruments' solutions guarantee high-volume data transfer to monitoring and analysis devices without compromising link performance.

You install the devices between a switch and a network device to capture a copy of the data stream to an analysis appliance. Best of all, nTAP devices have no effect on traffic or the existing link—it won't drop packets or affect switch performance. Douglas was also quick to point out that pricing on two of the most enticing nTAP devices—the 10/100/1000 Copper to Optical Conversion nTAP (which monitors full-duplex links up to Gigabit speeds with copper or fiber analysis outputs) and the Single Channel Optical nTAP—is considerably lower than that of the competition. The key to the nTAP family, particularly the 10/100/1000 Copper to Optical Conversion nTAP, is its flexibility.

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