Cisco Systems and Microsoft have announced a collaborative effort designed to bridge a divide between their emerging network access-control architectures.
The two companies have agreed to share application programming interfaces and jointly develop protocols intended to improve interoperability between Microsoft's Network Access Protection technology and Cisco's rival Network Admission Control offering.
NAP and NAC are designed to help companies enforce security policies on network endpoint systems such as PCs and mobile devices. The technologies let IT managers set rules that prevent a client device from accessing a network unless it complies with policies on antivirus software updates, firewall configurations and other issues.
But Cisco's plan is to integrate the functionality into its routers, switches and virtual private network devices, while Microsoft's strategy is focused on embedding NAP in its operating systems.
Cisco released an initial set of NAC products in June. Microsoft will add VPN Quarantine support in the first service pack for Windows Server 2003, due by mid-2005. Full NAP support won't come until the Longhorn version of Windows, expected in 2007.