Craig Copeland and Wayne Bird, the two met while working in the UK headquarters of network management company, Networks Unlimited. Both were employed as sales executives, though they also assisted with training and troubleshooting. Both hankered from the warm, sunny weather of the cape.
After careful consideration, they decided to partner up and launch Networks Unlimited in South Africa. Their talents and skills are complementary, Bird being the techno wizard, and Copeland the expert in marketing and accounting. Negotiations with their UK employers were successful and Networks Unlimited SA was born in 1994.
The company started small, in the back of a house, with Copeland and Bird scouring the telephone book for possible clients. “We divided the phonebook in half, the one took A-G, the other H-Z,” remembers Bird. Though they knew the product range was top notch, they needed to create awareness in South Africa.
While Building this product awareness, the company was run in much the same vein as its UK counterpart, i.e. a service orientated company. Once a respectable customer base had been established, including notable SA blue chip companies, they decided the time was ripe to depart from this focus, establishing the company as a product-orientated one. Focusing on network management, security and product solutions, Networks Unlimited SA now enforces a pyramid structured model.
Layers encompassed in pyramid from the lowest to the highest tier, include: Help esk, Remote Control, Monitoring and Protocol Analysis, Internet Filtering, Content Security and SNMP management. This structure reflects the company motto of monitor, Analyze and Improve, while the product range enables Networks Unlimited to provide its clients with a total, customized, software solution that seamlessly integrates with other business applications.
What lies ahead we asked? According to Copeland, the company is focusing its product development and acquisition in three main areas:
There can be no doubt that Content Security is a key business issue. Besides the threat of virus and hacker attacks, accompany may be held liable if its employees send out offensive, or pornographic material. This will not only cost the business in monetary terms but may also blemish the company image. Business also needs to control the flow of information, to ensure that no confidential material falls into the wrong hands.
Networks Unlimited offers four main products under this category, all of which are policy-based security solutions. When implementing any content security or internet usage policy, “says Copeland “a clear policy must be drawn up, indicating what is, and is not allowed. This must be circulated to and signed by all employees to indicate their understanding of the policy. In this way policies can be enforced, and action can be taken against employees abusing Internet or e-mail privileges.”
The four products under Content Security are:
MAILsweeper 4.2 is the latest version and offers comprehensive protection against threats lying hidden in Internet e-mails. These hidden threats are not only viruses, but spoof attacks, unauthorized transfers, encrypted data, disguised file types, copyright infringement etc. The software allows you to define an employee e-mail usage policy, stating what is acceptable content in e-mail attachments. Policies can be defined according to departments, or individual user levels. The software is an industry standard SMTP gateway, which disassembles any analyses e-mails and attachments entering or leaving the company, validating them against the policy.
WEBsweeper 4 enable’s your company to protect itself at the gateway from any web threats. It’s more than just a URL-blocker and web-virus protector; rather it checks and controls content downloaded from and uploaded to the web. WEBsweeper acts as a caching HTTP proxy server, scanning web traffic, checking user ID, page being browsed and authorization level.
PORNsweeper 1.0 Both PORNsweeper and MAILsweeper Archivist (next up) are added-value modules for MAILsweeper, so MAILsweeper must be present on your system. PORNsweeper works at the gateway, analyzing e-mail for nude and pornographic material. It processes the image data, detecting flesh tones, amount of flesh tones, amount of flesh area and facial elements in an image, and compares this against a known database of features.
MAILsweeper Archivist: This module enables you to set up an archiving policy with a simple search interface that makes message retrieval quick and easy. You can maintain a full copy of the e-mail, index recent e-mail for easy searching. Track e-mail containing business-critical documents reduce mailbox congestion, etc.
Mobile users’ telecommuters or branch offices can have instant access to company info, marketing documentation etc. with remote control software installed.
This software is the perfect solution to a company that has branch offices across the country, or even the globe. The software enables your IT administrator to check and configure data on any PC in the Brach office, for example. NetOp Remote Control links your keyboard, mouse and screen to any PC that needs to be worked on and its scripting tool enables you to create shortcuts to frequently repeated tacks. IT offers strong Windows integration, is easy to use, and offers high-speed file transfer, with minimal bandwidth usage.
This software offers the same type of functionality as NetOp Remote Control, but is specifically designed for the classroom scenario, where the teacher can take control of the students PCs at any time, check the work that is being done, teach the whole class via any PC etc. This product was reviewed in our Jan/Feb issue.
Together with threats concerning content security, Internet usage, in terms of lost productivity can become very expensive for business. Also, bandwidth, or the lack thereof, is an issue that needs to be addressed. Business, therefore, needs tools that will monitor and block usage.
Two great Internet filtering solutions, though SurfControl recently bought out CyberPatrol to obtain its comprehensive address lists. This includes the CyberNot list of inappropriate site addresses such as porn, violent and profane sites, etc.… Cyber Patrol Kids List for children safe? unsafe sites, and Internet list to help manage the use of online services such as search engines, free e-mail, web chat etc.
A great analysis tool, Telemate collects activity data from multiple sources, relates it to a directory of users and details the costs involved. The report allows you to analyze which employees are looking at unauthorized sites, enables you to reconstruct intrusion attempts and assess the damage, and even offers insight into network congestion and usage patterns. This, in turn enables you to improve the way in which your bandwidth resources are used, control Internet usage, enhance network security and, of course, save on costs.
By punting the technology behind the brand names, networks Unlimited has created awareness of the intricacies of network management and introduced clients to its stable of best of breed products. How does Networks unlimited differentiate itself from its competitors? In short, via Service, Quality and commitment. “Commitment to quality and service has always been our philosophy”, explain the directors. “We provide management solutions and specialized services that deliver real business benefits to user.”
Networks Unlimited opened its first satellite office in JHB in March this year. The company now employs 10 full time staff members in the Cape Town office, has a national sales team and solid relationships with a select group of partners and resellers.
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