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September 6, 2006

Microsoft and Cisco unveil interoperability architecture

Posted by David Hunter at 1:33 PM ET.

Press release:

Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are delivering on their previously stated commitment to provide customers and partners with clear guidance on how Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) and Microsoft® Network Access Protection (NAP) will interoperate. The two companies are demonstrating the new interoperable architecture at The Security Standard conference (, which opened today in Boston.

A technical white paper released today by the two companies 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 Microsoft Windows Vista™ and the future version of Windows Server®, code-named “Longhorn.” The white paper can be downloaded at and

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-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.

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 the Microsoft NAP and Cisco NAC ecosystems can also refer to the joint architecture for building or marketing solutions that work within the joint framework.

If the above description is making your eyes glaze over, here’s a short course courtesy of Paul F. Roberts at Infoworld:

Network access control technology allows companies to perform health checks on endpoint devices such as PCs and mobile devices before they are granted access to company networks. For example, worker PCs might be checked to make sure they are not infected with a virus, have up-to-date antivirus definitions, and a desktop firewall enabled before being allowed onto a corporate LAN.

Cisco first unveiled products that support its NAC architecture in June 2004. Since then it has slowly expanded NAC support from routers to switches and introduced a NAC appliance, formerly known as “Clean Access.” Microsoft’s Network Admission Protection (NAP) client health screening architecture has always been linked to its upcoming desktop and server operating system releases Vista and Longhorn, both due in 2007.

In the face of strong customer pressure to simplify the competing architectures, the two companies said in October, 2004 that they would integrate NAC and NAP.

Hit the link for more, but per the press release above there are now three competing solutions so the games have just started.

Filed under Cisco, Coopetition, Microsoft, Network Access Protection, OS - Client, OS - Server, Technologies, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista

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One Response to “Microsoft and Cisco unveil interoperability architecture”

  1. Microsoft and Cisco promise again to compete but interoperate -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] If you are interested in the details there is a replay of the webcast and a briefing document whose title, Microsoft-Cisco Alliance Update, sums up the situation well enough. Last year (e.g. [1], [2]), Microsoft and Cisco apparently decided that their emerging individual pursuits of the enterprise communications business weren’t playing too well with customers who actually had to use the fairly complex systems. In a nutshell, the average customer will have products from both Cisco and Microsoft (and their respective allies) in house for other reasons and doesn’t want to be forced to choose either one or the other. Hence, this renewal of shotgun wedding vows for the two competitors who will, of course, still be scuffling behind the scenes while smiling for the camera.   Filed under Coopetition, Cisco, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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