Network security software firm StillSecure released Monday the beta version of its Cobia unified network platform, which allows network and security functions with plug-n-play software modules running Windows or Linux operating systems.
Designed for use in small to medium businesses and enterprise remote offices, the Cobia platform runs on standard Intel or AMD compatible hardware. This eliminates the need for proprietary hardware purchases and upgrades.
The Cobia unified network platform creates a network environment for VoIP, broadband and WiFi connections to a company’s computer system.
StillSecure will provide the final release version of the Cobia software platform for free as part of its next-generation open source business model under a dual-use community and commercial license.
“We think the dual license gives end users a lot of options. It is modular, so users can pick and choose the features they need rather than be limited to a set architecture,” Mitchell Ashley, CTO and general manager of StillSecure, told LinuxInsider.
StillSecure developed Cobia as a viable alternative to the traditional fixed-appliance approach for deploying network infrastructure and services, Ashley said. The fixed-appliance approach, he added, is inefficient and expensive, requiring frequent replacement.
Cobia’s modular design and Web-based management interface allows users to implement the complete network or a subset by tailoring the Cobia platform to the needs of each network, according to StillSecure.
The Cobia platform comes with a suite of hardware modules based on the configuration needs of the users. It is a software and hardware combination that can be expanded to multiple computers on the network, stated Ashley.
Cobia offers a growing list of network and security modules, including dynamic and static routing, firewall and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) with IPS, WiFi, VPN and many other services coming in the near future. The Cobia platform can be installed on off-the-shelf, x86 hardware or as a virtual appliance.
This allows users to take advantage of the price, performance and scalability of general computing hardware, as well as advances in virtualization, Ashley explained.
StillSecure began developing the concept for an open source, flexible network security platform last summer. The open source community has responded very enthusiastically, Ashley said. StillSecure will continue to work with community developers to deliver an innovative solution that makes it easier and more cost-effective for administrators to manage their network infrastructures.
“Advances in processor chips and PC architecture today make this software approach feasible,” said Ashley.
The dual license covers community and commercial models of the Cobia platform. The community license provides free use with unlimited installations. StillSecure will provide free support to users of the product through forums.
The company will add paid support for the community license in a few months. It will also provide the source code, said Ashley.
Purchasing a commercial license for the Cobia platform will allow users to embed Cobia in hardware or to distribute it with other products on software bundled with hardware.
“We will make money through paid support service, OEM fees and rebranding agreements as royalty fees. We will add commercial products on top of the free version for sale. This gives us the best of both worlds,” Ashley said.
The Cobia platform could be used to create the network. The software serves as the hub to connect individual PCs together, according to Ashley. Small businesses and even home-based entrepreneurs with several computers could use Cobia to connect their desktops, laptops and remote devices, he said.
Larger companies could also use Cobia to live on the edge of their networks for an added layer of security, Ashley noted.
StillSecure plans to keep Cobia at the beta phase for a few months while it introduces a few modules. Then it will move beyond beta as it adds more modules.
The company plans to offer its existing IDS/IPS product StrataGuard and network access control product Safe Access as Cobia modules initially.
“This will help bring about a rapid adoption of Cobia. We are using it ourselves as a development tool,” Ashley explained.
x86, Linux and Windows
The beta version of the Cobia platform is available for downloaded here for installation on an x86 host or as a virtual machine (Linux or Windows).
The Cobia community, currently over 1,000 users large, is involved in online support, feedback and development of the Cobia platform and modules.