Cisco and Microsoft join forces over network security


Cisco and Microsoft join forces over network security

Antony Savvas

Cisco Systems and Microsoft have released details to customers about how the Cisco Network Admission Control (Nac) and new Microsoft Network Access Protection (Nap) systems will interoperate.

The two companies are demonstrating the new interoperable architecture at the Security Standard Conference in Boston this week.

A technical white paper describes how Cisco Nac and Microsoft Nap interoperate for security policy enforcement and health assessment.

The white paper describes the architecture and provides details on how to integrate the embedded security capabilities of Cisco's network infrastructure with those of the forthcoming Microsoft Windows Vista and the future version of Windows Server, codenamed Longhorn.

In addition, the two companies have revealed a general road map for bringing Cisco Nac and Microsoft Nap interoperability to market, including a limited beta program set to start later this calendar year.

Customers will be able to start deploying the Cisco Nac and Microsoft Nap interoperable solution once Windows Server Longhorn is available in the second half of 2007.

Cisco and Microsoft have cross-licensed the Cisco Nac and Microsoft Nap protocols to help ensure interoperability and to enable both companies to respond to future market and customer requirements.

"This is exactly what is needed in the market as businesses attempt to understand how to implement a network access control infrastructure in order to increase security amid an increasingly mobile work force and increasingly aggressive threat environment," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group.

"Microsoft and Cisco must work together on this, and I'm pleased to see these two companies make the investment and the engineering commitment for interoperability," said Kerravala.

Although both companies will continue delivering their individual solutions, customers now have a choice between Cisco Nac, Microsoft Nap, or the interoperable solution from both companies.

The joint architecture allows communication and policy enforcement across Cisco Nac and Microsoft Nap, enabling an end-to-end solution to be built around the Cisco and Microsoft interoperability.

Technology partners of both companies can also refer to the joint architecture for building or marketing solutions that work within the joint framework.

The white paper can be downloaded at and


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