Cisco Flexes Muscles With New Alliances


For starters, after promising to deliver compatibility for more than a year, Cisco and Microsoft finally are showing how Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) and Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) will interoperate.

The vendors are demonstrating the architecture at the Security Standard conference in Boston, and they also released a jointly authored white paper released today that describes how Cisco NAC and Microsoft NAP interoperate for security policy enforcement and health assessment. Among the included details are how to integrate the embedded security capabilities of Cisco's network infrastructure with those of Microsoft Windows Vista, along with the upcoming Windows "Longhorn." The vendors also announced a limited beta program that will start by the end of the year, and said the full NP-NAC solution will be available when Longhorn ships in the latter half of 2007. The full white paper is available from Cisco or Microsoft. Aligning itself with another industry titan, Cisco also announced a joint marketing agreement with SAP to enhance the latter's solutions for government, risk and compliance (GRC). The two vendors will collaborate on solutions that offer IT management and controls between Cisco Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) and the three new applications in the portfolio of SAP solutions for GRC: SAP GRC Repository, Process Control and Risk Management. The agreement includes cooperation in sales and marketing and advanced service offerings. Finally, Cisco released its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) solution. Verizon Business is the first U.S.-based provider to use the solution, deploying it with its Resilient Network Attached Storage (RNAS) offering, a service that helps businesses manage and store data for remote locations.

As the number of remote workers increases, their network performance and security requirements are every bit as robust as their counterparts at the home office. Joint solutions such as these enable better storage and file sharing while providing a centrally managed, secure environment for remote users on an organization's wide area networks.

"About 70 percent of all data is created or stored in branch offices of large companies, and compliance requirements mean these organizations need a better way to manage and store their data," says Mark Weiner, Cisco's director of market management for data center solutions.

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Steve Benvenuto, Cisco's business development manager for application networking services, worldwide channels, says WAAS should bring extra revenue to partners.

"Ones that are working with SAN and WAAS have a compelling story and an easy upsell on this," Benvenuto says. "It allows them to do assessments up front and take that through to integration, deployment and ongoing services opportunities."

Partners say the WAAS architecture is much needed in today's network environments.

"It allows things like network optimization and management," says John C'de Baca, director of practice development for INX, an IP communications solutions provider in Lewisville, Texas. "As all IT becomes more network-centric, you need centralized applications like this that tie it all together."