Fortress Security "Switch" to use Legra Assets

By Ed Sutherland

October 11, 2004

One wireless switch company withers, only to see its intellectual property reborn in a new product that will reportedly work with any existing Wi-Fi switch to lock down a WLAN.

Fortress Technologies announced on Monday that it would be using hardware developed by defunct Legra Systems to create a new product, in an answer to the growth of Wi-Fi in enterprise networks.

Legra's security and networking hardware will become part of an AirFortress 'security switch' that Fortress will ship in early 2005, according to Ken Evans, vice president of product management for the Tampa, Fla.-based software developer. It will "leverage the acquired technology designs and Legra's switching technology," Fortress said in a prepared statement.

The security switch is a "new beast," Evans said.

The security processing and switch technology from Legra would be folded into Fortress's offerings, "creating a more scalable and sophisticated security switch that will support enterprise policy management as wireless becomes more central to the core of the network," he said.

"The new AirFortress security switch will include platforms ranging from site-optimized devices for remote branch offices, health care clinics and retails stores, to larger systems capable of securing entire corporate campus networks," said a statement.

Evans said the move comes at a time when wireless is becoming more central to enterprise. Wireless security is "becoming a core component," he said.

The acquisition "ensures that the value our products provide for security and flexibility scales with demand for wireless," said Shawn Hughes, CEO of Fortress Technologies.

Despite the integration of Legra technology, Fortress "won't become a wireless switch company," Evans said. He believes "the switch market is imploding."

Evans said Fortress will not compete against Aruba, Airspace, and other surviving switch vendors. He said instead that Fortress plans to form alliances and work with makers of Wi-Fi switches.

The AirFortress security switch will be compatible with all switch and AP vendors. Fortress said that the platform will be device-agnostic. The company will be "securing all components out there," Evans said.

"The true value of wireless switches is realized when merged with the additional value of high-assurance security and policy enforcement capabilities that provide a seamless secure environment, " Hughes said.

Fortress is targeting security-sensitive environments in health care, financial and government sectors as potential customers of the new security switch.

Evans says four to six top engineers from Legra have become part of the Fortress development team. The security software firm said the Legra employees will "ensure continuity and seamless technology integration." Along with the employees, Fortress will maintain the Boston-area Legra office.

Evans refused to disclose the price Fortress paid for the Legra assets.

The acquisition of Legra, plus the announcement of the upcoming security switch, "will provide customers with a highly optimized and open platform for high-performance end-to-end network protection," the company stated.

The intellectual and physical assets of Legra are being split between Fortress and Nexthop, a networking software company based in Mountain View, Calif.

"Nexthop has purchased the software assets" of Legra, Wanda Cavanaugh, a Nexthop spokesperson, confirmed Monday. Last week, Nexthop told Wi-Fi Planet it had purchased "some – but not all – of Legra."



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