The expansion of the PSA appliances beyond their original form factor will open up new opportunities for partners, particularly around LAN security regarding contractors and partners, which has become a subject of major concern, and where cloud and virtual models offer more flexibility for some use cases.
Secure access solution vendor Pulse Secure has announced a broad extension of the form factors in which their Pulse Secure Appliance [PSA] is available. Previously available only as a hardware appliance, it will now also be available as cloud and virtual appliances.
“Three years ago, when Pulse Secure was spun out of Juniper, we built our mission around secure access, and quickly became the market leader in remote access,” said Prakash Mana, head of product for Pulse Secure. “Very quickly, we learned that customers had four additional challenges. First, their role-based access control, which was originally around PCs and laptops, was becoming a broader mobile access issue, and they wanted to extend remote access into mobile access. Secondly, as applications moved into the cloud, customers wanted to expand their remote access investment to secure the cloud. Third, with breaches becoming high profile, several major breaches were found to have been generated from contractors’ computers connected to the local network – not from a hacker. So customers wanted to use role-based access for remote access to the LAN as well, so the local network is as secure as the remote. Finally, some verticals like eBanking, health and education, in addition to providing secure access to their enterprise users, also have consumer-facing users, and they wanted secure application access to give their customers, patients or students access.
“We were the market leader in remote access, but we were being asked to combine it with these other things – mobile access, cloud access, local network access, and secure application access – to provide true end-to-send secure access,” Mana said.
That is why the Pulse Secure Access platform was introduced, in 2015, to power this next-gen secure access framework. It was purpose-built to support both Pulse Connect Secure (VPN) and Pulse Policy Secure (NAC), and was available in branch office, medium-sized enterprise, and large enterprise sizes, with appliances that scale from 200 to 25,000 concurrent sessions
“PSA lets partners deliver all these secure access services to our customers – mobile, cloud, network and application,” Mana said. “We initially introduced it only as a hardware appliance because at that time, our security products were still consumed heavily on hardware. We have had a virtual appliance available, but just for service providers only. Now we are broadly expanding PSA into virtual and cloud.”
Mana emphasized that the cloud and virtual versions have the same capabilities as the hardware offering.
“When companies bring products to virtual and cloud environments, there is often a difference in what you get,” he said. “This is the exact same software. It has the exact same feature functionality as the hardware appliance.”
The addition of virtual and cloud-based appliances provides both customers and partners much greater flexibility in hybrid IT environments.
“This will be critical for service provider partners because it will increase their deployment flexibility and their ROI,” Mana said. “A second channel benefit is that the new deployment models will support an aggressive subscription model, and gives the channel another way that they can offer this to their end users.”
Mana also noted that the new deployment models will make it easier to address customer concerns around local network use security, where high-profile breaches increased awareness, but also fears.
“Customers are looking to their channel partners to deliver solutions that address solutions around contractor and partner workforces,” he said. “This gives the channel a special way to address those use cases. With the physical appliance, if an organization wanted to bring only 10 contractors onboard, they would still have to bring new systems on board to isolate the network. It was challenging. With the virtual and cloud deployments, they can give easier access to handle contractors and bring down deployment time.”