Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco and Microsoft will share information about their technologies to boost compatibility between Cisco Network Admissions Control (NAC) and Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP), the companies' respective approaches for providing endpoint security and health -policy compliance when accessing network resources.
The companies promised to work toward interoperability efforts between their NAC and NAP architectures, adding that this co-ordinated approach will allow customers to integrate the embedded security capabilities of Cisco's network infrastructure with those of Microsoft's Windows.
The collaboration was welcomed by industry analysts. Chris Byrnes, senior vice president at analyst META Group, said: "This announcement signals strong intent for interoperability and an embrace of a standards-based approach, which is what META Group clients have identified as a requirement in this space. With broader interoperability and the partner ecosystems these two companies bring to the table both customers and the industry will benefit."
"Safer and assured access to the network is a basic requirement if we are to continue our reliance on technology to support business growth. Having a single consistent way of establishing connectivity is as critical to supporting economic growth via technology as TCP/IP was to the success of the internet," Byrnes added.
"A critical component of building the Cisco Self-Defending Network is industry collaboration," said John Chambers, chief executive officer for Cisco.
"Security is not an island. By working with Microsoft, Cisco is again demonstrating its commitment to taking every step possible to provide our customers with the industry's best tools and technologies for network security."
"This important alliance with Cisco underscores Microsoft's ongoing commitment to creating a more secure computing environment for customers," added Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
"Delivering greater compatibility between Cisco and Microsoft products, working toward more interoperable technology architectures, and supporting industry standards in key areas are important steps forward for our two companies, for our industry and, most importantly, for customers."