ConSentry Latest NAC Vendor to Close Shop

ConSentry Networks, a pioneer in network-access control (NAC) switching, is closing its doors.

Founded in 2003, ConSentry raised lifetime funding of approximately $80.4 million, borrowed in five installments, roughly one per year. Its final funding round, announced in January of this year, was for approximately $9.4 million and came from existing investors.

During the course of its existence, ConSentry was financially backed by some prominent Silicon Valley VCs, including Accel Partners (one of Accel’s partners became ConSentry’s CEO for a brief period) and Sequoia Capital.

Network Access Control, sometimes referred to as Network Admission Control — which fortunately resolves into the same acronym — is a market that has failed to deliver on its hype and promise. For a long time, it was billed as the next major wave in enterprise security.

To date, though, it has fallen well short of becoming a $1-billion market. Gartner reported that the NAC market grew 51 percent in 2008, but was worth just $221 million. That’s not enough to support dozens of players, including many established, brand-name vendors who tend to capture their fair share of NAC from within their broader installed bases of customers.

In that respect, ConSentry is not alone in failing to survive the economic downturn and the natural consolidation of the marketplace. All technology markets consolidate as they mature — with the marketplace eventually selecting winners and losers — and they consolidate faster during economic downturns. Consolidation is heightened further if it occurs in a market segment that isn’t living up to commercial expectations.

A few of ConSentry’s former rivals had closed their doors previously, and others have been acquired by bigger players.

In general, whatever spoils the NAC market has yielded have gone to the leading network-infrastructure players (Cisco, Juniper, HP ProCurve, etc.), who’ve built or bought their own NAC capabilities, and to the vendors who own security real estate on computing end points. Those vendors include Symantec, McAfee, Sophos, and, increasingly, Microsoft.

Each time the market’s music stops, signaling that another vendor must leave the party, fewer chairs are available at the table. Some of those chairs are permanently reserved for
the major players
. Less and less room is available for standalone NAC switch or appliance vendors, even if they’ve attempted to tailor their value proposition toward providing security intelligence to the network infrastructure or endpoints belonging to the big guys.

Some observers still claim the “Year of NAC” will come, but it won’t arrive soon enough for ConSentry and others.


One response to “ConSentry Latest NAC Vendor to Close Shop

  1. *

    It’s sad to see such a technically superior NAC company in my marketspace go under. Truly a bittersweet day.

    However, NetClarity, Inc. remains the only NAC player to win Best NAC Product for 2009 award and Hot Company 2009 because we are the only NON-INLINE, AGENTLESS, PATENTED solution for NAC that can literally fit in the palm of your hands and your IT budget. Our solution works with all network equipment with no need for 802.1x, which is highly hackable, no infrastructure upgrades and stops hackers who might be propogating malware on hubs, which are unmanageable devices or who might be plugging into hot ethernet ports, cracking in through wireless and spoofing MAC and/or IP.

    I think one of the reasons Consentry failed is because they had a very pricy switch-based solution:

    a) It’s hard to knock out the switch players that have billions, like Cisco, HP, 3com and Juniper to name a few. Not required to implement our solution, we have added an extra layer of protection through our smartswitch and firewall integration with these players.

    b) They missed securing the smaller and remote offices. At one point, Dean Hickman Smith, VP Internation Sales at Consentry, a very bright fellow, approached NetClarity about a possible OEM of our Micro and Branch units (which are selling worldwide in over 40 countries starting at not $25k but less than $2k USD) to solve the problem of securing the edge. This never went past early conversations, I can only guess, due to political reasons internal to Consentry and beyond my information.

    Anyway, for the record, NetClarity will offer a trade-up program for all Consentry customers and way for these customers to protect their branch and remote offices in a cost effective way.

    Here’s our trade up program:

    To the only other truly AGENTLESS vendor (but an inline solution), we bid you a sad farewell.

    Warmest regards,
    Gary S. Miliefsky
    President & CTO
    NetClarity, Inc.

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