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  28.09.2006  
Centralized Network Access Management with LevelOne
 

As networks expand even more rapid to accommodate more demanding and larger network usage, system administrators need a solution that is able to manage a multitude of wireless and wired private and public networks manageable from one central location whilst protecting these networks from both inside and outside security threats.

Wireless networking has slowly emerged to become the preferred way connect to networks and the Internet at work, home and while traveling. Since Wireless connectivity means to be connected “at anytime and anywhere” the networks supporting a Wireless coverage area need to expand to accommodate new communications needs to the users of a mobile generation.

Today, 95% of all notebook computers are sold with Wireless capability already built in. So too, a new generation of mobile phones and PDAs sold with embedded Wireless connectivity are currently flooding the mobile market.

With this new wave of Wireless connectivity, system administrators are faced with a challenging and often difficult to manage networking environment where Wireless devices connect to a network. Not only does the network need to be stable, but it also needs to provide a secure connection free from internal and external threats.

As soon as networking devices connect to a network they are able to connect to each other via the network and access networking resources such as databases, storage and backup systems, email servers and other security sensitive devices. This is a tremendous burden on the security capability of any network and organization since these resources are sensitive environments that play host to a variety of secured data. Although firewalls and ant-virus software play an ever increasing, more over an imperative role in data resource security, networks need to safe-guard itself and users connected against harmful internal network access and attacks.

Organizations need to implement comprehensive and tightly integrated tools that are able to manage networks and network access, assist with increased productivity, take into consideration cost implications as well as be easily maintained and managed from a centralized zone. This calls for a Network Access Control solution is able to provide network administrators complete control of local and remote located wired and Wireless networks from a central controlling point.

A Network Access Control Gateway, or better known as a Network Management Gateway, is a single controlling device that is scalable to manage hundreds of Access Points and network users from various locations inside a controlled network. This makes it possible to deploy a network in one location while the management of that network takes place in a remote location in the next city or on the other side of the world. Also, various Local Area (LAN) and Wireless Local Area (WLAN) networks can be connected to a single Network Access Management Gateway to provide user-profile access to guests on public networks or local users on private networks.

That in a nutshell is a Network Access Control Gateway. But how is it possible that one device can provide several networks with integrated and powerful management features while still be able to safeguard them against harmful and costly security threats?

Network Access Management

Despite popular believe, it’s not the security threat that is such a hampering thought to network management. It’s the actual management of the network and network users itself that pose the biggest threat to network administrators.

Network Access Management Gateways enforces security policies to all devices, wireless or wired, that are requesting access to a particular network. With these management policies in place, networks are safeguarded against network breaching, viruses, spyware and other malicious activities. All non-compliant devices that does not subscribe to these strict polices are denied access to networks and this results in more secured networks.

Although network access management policies might include traditional firewalls and anti-virus software, network traffic has become too diverse to rely on these measures to stay protected. With more companies deploying an open model of network access that enables outsiders with network access to private networks they run the risk of unmanaged network penetration.

With unmanaged visitor access to private networks, network administrators are plagued with network security breaches that originate from within, rather from outside company networks. This unauthorized and unchecked network access can lead to costly consequences.

To manage a network and its users individually is a daunting task for any seasoned network administrator. Although network access can be managed by individual network connection, the scope and man-hours implicated with such a task is too costly to implement.

One Device – Many Management Options

The deployment of a network within an organization is accompanied by the management of the users that connect to that network. However, the resources of the network need to be controlled as to give the network maximum efficiency while allowing authorized network users, access to privileged network resources. The management of all network users can be controlled from using a single device connected to a network – a Central Network Management Gateway.

Put aside the network threats facing network administrators today and take a closer look at the management options available from a network access management gateway.

Authorized Access Only – The network access management gateway only provides access to those users who are entitled to connect to the network or specific areas within the network. Network users consists of private (local), public (guests) or a combination of these network users.

Quarantine of unauthorized users – The gateway re-directs unauthorized network users to specific location and locks them outside the network while notifying the network administrator of their attempts to access the network.

Per user billing – Guest and On-Demand network users can access the network with a personal user name and password with their access to the network controlled against their user profile. Their network access is monitored and billed against the time they spend connected to the network.

Data Control – The gateway can deny access to websites, instant messenger and peer-to-peer programs allowing for improved employee efficiency.

Central Point Management – The gateway allows for a central management point that is a more efficient and cost-effective solution to employ.

Remote Location Network Access Management – The gateway allows network administrators to manage networks at remote locations while enabling network users with access to different networks where network resources are located.

Complete Network Management – The gateway can manage both Wireless and wired networks within private and public networks.

These are among a few features available from leading Network Access Management Gateways that are instrumental in providing an easy to manage, efficient and secured network environment.

The LevelOne Network Access Management Gateway

LevelOne provides a flexible and cost-effective network access management solution designed for the Small and Medium Business markets that enable network administrators to effectively manage different network user groups within wired and wireless local area networks from a central location that is secured and easy manageable.

The AMG-2000 Network Access Management gateway simplifies network deployment, promotes integrated security while providing increased scalability and ease of management. This solution is designed to be implemented where both a wired Ethernet and Wireless network has been deployed at offices, small hotels, educational institutions, small and medium business units, apartments and housing complexes.

The distinctive characteristic of the AMG-2000 Access Management Gateway lies in its ability to form part of the central nervous system of a network. Since it connects directly to the Internet, it has an unsurpassed networking ability that allows it to connect and route high packets of data between the Internet pipe and the network it controls through its dual WAN failover. This failover makes it possible to connect to two Internet Service Providers to ensure a stable Internet connection in case one connection fails.

The AMG-2000 has one private Ethernet and 4 public Ethernet ports that can be further distributed through switches to form a 255 node network environment. The private and public Ethernet ports employ hardware network access control to ensure that public data traffic and access to the private network is disabled and they are only able to make use of the public network.

Network users in the public network can only connect to devices available in the public network since Access Points and Ethernet network connections to the private network will not show up if public users are searching for a network connection. Users on the private network managed by the AMG-2000 can, however, connect to any Access Point or Ethernet connection that is available on the gateway. This ensures for a safe and secured networking area with efficient network access management.

Managing this powerful networking capability and the users and end devices that connect to it is a further unique attribute that makes the AMG-2000 the preferred Network Access Management Gateway for network administrators.

Apart from the standard data encryption and authentication methods in all network access gateways such as routers, switches and access points, the LevelOne Network Access Management Gateway has a built-in AAA (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting) server that ensures maximum security for authenticating users connected to a Wireless network controlled by the gateway. The standard data encryption offered by the AMG-2000 includes WEP 64/128, WPA, WPA2 and IPSec network keys and WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK and 802.1x authentication methods.

Although most organizations make use of AAA and identity management to manage the access of users and devices to a network, there has been almost no way to verify the security profiles of these endpoint devices and network users. Instead, the AMG-2000 reference endpoint devices to local databases such as RADIUS, LDAP, NT Domain and POP3 servers for complete verification before allowing a device or user connect to the network. This ensures that only safe users and devices are able to connect to a network after the Network Access Management Gateway has “given clearance” for access.

When deploying a wireless network with LevelOne WAP-0006 or the POE(Power over Ethernet) enabled WAP-0009 Access Points, the AMG-2000 further excels in seamlessly managing each individual access point. Network administrators are given full control of the Wireless network through the intelligent management interface of the Network Access Management Gateway. Access points are automatically recognized, identified and integrated into the network the AMG-2000 is managing. This makes the deployment and managing of networks easier for network administrators.

The AMG-2000 offers simultaneous centralized management for 12 LevelOne Access Points. Access Points are automatically discovered and incorporated into the Wireless Network, their online status can be checked, enabled and disabled, their firmware can be centrally upgraded and their system settings can be changed. All these management features can be done from a centralized management console. Although these management features are only enabled on LevelOne WAP-0006 or WAP-0009 Access Points, the AMG-2000 can control a Wireless Network made up of 40 Access Points that is interoperable with any brand. This makes the AMG-2000 a very cost-effective network management gateway, since a variety of Wireless Access Point brands can form part of the Wireless network.

The AMG-2000 Network Access Management Gateway provides network user access for 120 concurrent users and can create and manage 500 local accounts and 2000 on-demand guest accounts. It provides a comprehensive billing profile for on-demand guest accounts that makes it possible for guests to obtain access to a network according to their individual needs.

For instance, guests can purchase a 100 minute network account that allows them to connect from a certain network at a specific time and date within a specific date range. This feature is an excellent solution for small businesses and hotels that want to provide secured and efficient networking service to their guests that is a profitable benefit to their business operations.

The central management feature of the Network Access Management Gateway is another feature that makes the AMG-2000 a more cost-effective solution to deploy for organizations with tight budgets. Small businesses such as coffee shops and Internet cafes, service centers, companies with multiple branch offices and other organizations that have multiple network locations, can make considerable cuts in operation costs.

The AMG-2000 is able to control and manage multiple remotely located networks from a centralized location with only a single network administrator needed to manage all these networks. This makes it possible for service providers to offer a better managed and more efficient network service to clients that require only a small network access area for their customers.

By deploying a LevelOne AMG-2000 Network Access Management Gateway turnkey solution into existing networks dramatically improves the security of the network, regardless of its size and complexity while providing a centralized management environment for network administrators that are now able to manage both wired and wireless networks.

LevelOne AMG-2000 Network Access Management Gateway further extends the value of current network investment of Small and Medium Enterprises and offices. It provides adequate security features that efficiently secure managed networks, provides an easy to use and easy to configure access management utility for guest account creation, user billing and group profile management as well as provide interoperability with other leading Wireless Access Point brands.

Compared with other leading network access management gateways, the LevelOne AMG-2000 is a more cost-effective solution that provides a quicker return on investment for service providers that are now able to offer a better managed and more efficient network service to their clients as well as to organizations that are looking for a more simplified and more effective network management tool that is able to managed the existing installed network environment without compromising network security.

 
 
 
 
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