3Com claims its guidelines for building policy based networks are the most detailed in the industry, requiring less new investment and supporting a wider range of protocols than those of rivals.
Speaking at the launch of the company's blueprint for implementing what it terms 'policy powered networks' (PPNs) - those in which network managers can set and store rules governing areas such as user access - Dan McBride, European product marketing manager, said: "Other policy frameworks require a steeper learning curve and are limited in scope to the type of policy they can support."
3Com will offer the guidelines to the Desktop Management Taskforce standards body, which is looking into specifications for using directories to manage and configure networks.
The plan includes five steps covering network hardware, software standards, directory support and network monitoring procedures.
3Com's PPN is based on four functions - requests for resources, for instance for an application launch; a policy server to store and manage the rules; information sources, including lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) supporting directories; plus network devices to enforce the rules. The guidelines support 3Com and third party technology.
PPN will enable network managers to set policies across the entire network for user access and network priorities, among other things, and store the information in an LDAP directory. The network devices then query user requests against the information in LDAP, to indentify who can gain access or demand extra bandwidth, for example.
The framework encompasses leased telecomms lines for voice as well as traditional data networks.
3Com expects to roll out tools to enable PPNs, including LDAP client support, in the third quarter of this year. At the end of 1998 it will feature support for Novell, Siemens and Netscape directories, plus a policy manager and server.
Support for Microsoft's Active Directory will appear next year, along with policy based security, configuration, and monitoring applications.
John McConnell, president of specialist market research firm McConnell Associates, said: "Until now the role of policy in networks has usually been restricted to low level activities, such as thresholding. 3Com hs responded with a strategy that encompasses the critical elements for deploying policy based networking: legacy support, open architecture, proper security, and service establishment."
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