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Cisco, Intel expand alliance with new wireless offerings

The companies say their latest collaboration will make wireless networks more secure by giving enterprises greater control over user privileges.

Cisco Systems and Intel have expanded their alliance, delivering new technology they say will bolster the functionality and security of wireless networks.

Tuesday, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant and Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker unveiled a new collaboration called the Business Class Wireless Suite, which melds Cisco's Unified Wireless Architecture with Intel Centrino mobile technology. The companies said in a statement that the suite includes:

  • Optimal Access Point (AP) selection technology that allows Intel Centrino clients to scan for the best AP for "faster, more reliable and efficient roaming" within a business wireless LAN.
  • Enhanced Voice over IP (VoIP) technology that will boost audio strength and provide users with more reliable voice communications through their laptops.

How will these features improve security? Bob Gleichauf, vice president and CTO of Cisco's security technology group, said improved roaming and audio capabilities will allow IT shops to keep a tighter rein on wireless users' network privileges.

"We're giving customers greater ability to control the privileges a device has," he said. "Security is in many ways about privileges, and quality of service is a form of privilege. Cisco and Intel are making it so companies have greater control over that quality of service."

Alan Cohen, a senior director of product management at Cisco, said the wireless suite will be available from Cisco and Intel in the first quarter of 2006 and that the technology builds on efforts the companies have made to expand the Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) program for wireless LAN client interoperability.

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"We're moving toward better trust and confidentiality," he said. "This shows that wireless technology is growing up and becoming a business-class requirement in the computing environment."

The companies are also expanding their joint security efforts:

"With Cisco NAC interoperating with Intel AMT, enterprises will be better able to defend against security threats, helping to maintain user and business productivity and reduce the cost of security attacks and improve system remediation," Cisco said in a statement.

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