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Microsoft, Cisco announce joint NAC/NAP architecture

Customers will be able to start deploying the Microsoft NAP-Cisco NAC interoperable system once Windows Server "Longhorn" is available in the second half of 2007.

Microsoft and Cisco Systems Inc. have developed a joint interoperability architecture, where customers can use both Microsoft's and Cisco's health checking security technologies.

At the Security Standard Conference in Boston this week, both companies laid out their plans to allow for the interoperating of Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) and Cisco's Network Access Control (NAC) protocols.

The companies produced a white paper detailing the roadmap for both protocols. They also said there will be a private beta that will start later this calendar year. Customers will be able to deploy the NAP-NAC technology as soon as Windows Server Longhorn ships in the latter part of 2007, the companies said.

Experts have said that the joint release, which Cisco and Microsoft struck in October 2004, is a big step forward for the partnership. Cisco had already developed products based on NAC. Microsoft said in July it was developing NAP. Cisco is already shipping its products.

The interoperability allows customers to retain their investment in their current NAC infrastructure. Customers will be able to deploy both NAC and NAP incrementally or concurrently, the companies said. Microsoft will include a single agent in Windows Vista, and there will be cross platform support for both.

Deploying both the Cisco Secure Access Control Server and the Microsoft Network Policy Server will be necessary for the initial interoperability release. Both companies have cross-licensed the NAP and NAC protocols.

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