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Microsoft and Cisco collaborate on security

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Microsoft and Cisco Systems have detailed plans for interoperability between systems designed to enforce security policies on Windows PCs and servers.

The giants have published a white paper and detailed a roadmap that will enable Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) and Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) to work together, to the benefit of users and developers.

Microsoft said the white paper describes the architecture and provides details for integrating the embedded security capabilities of Cisco's network infrastructure with capabilities planned in Windows Vista and Windows Longhorn Server. Under the roadmap, a limited beta program for interoperability between NAP and NAC will begin later this year. Microsoft said interoperability would be possible with the launch of Windows Longhorn Sever is in the second half of 2007.

The goal is to provide single sign-on to a network for machines running Longhorn Server and Windows Vista, and to give third parties building applications with a security component the simplicity of a single programming interface. Interoperability will also mean customers can deploy Cisco's NAC now and upgrade to NAP once Windows Longhorn Server ships, Microsoft said.

Cisco and Microsoft unveiled their plan in 2004. The idea was for two of the biggest companies in software and network equipment to collaborate on APIs and protocols, making their systems compatible. Microsoft was a relative newcomer to end-point security with NAP, which is designed to help administrators set security policies for network-attached Windows PCs and servers.

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