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Cisco and Microsoft strike deal on perimeter security

The companies' respective network-edge technologies will be interoperable, according to a Microsoft official, who also outlined the projected release dates for several Windows-related products and services.

Microsoft and Cisco Systems Inc. will work together to make their respective perimeter security technologies compatible, but the extra work involved means Microsoft will have to delay the release of its version until 2007, when the Longhorn version of Windows Server is due to ship.

In the interim, the VPN-quarantine technology that Microsoft had developed for its internal use will be added

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to Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, which will have a release candidate by then end of the year, said Samm DiStasio, group product manager in Microsoft's Windows Server division.

In July, Microsoft introduced its Network Access Protection (NAP). The technology will be built into Windows Server, checking security credentials between a system and a domain controller as the user logs on. The function happens at the security layer in Windows, however, and not at the network layer.

Separately, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is building Network Admission Control, which does a similar job, only it works in routers and switches at the network layer. The hardware checks packets and won't pass them through unless they are shown to be safe.

Microsoft had signed up several big-name partners in support of its technology last summer, including Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc. Cisco was conspicuously absent from that list of partners.

Under the plan being

Customers will have to wait that much longer for built-in quarantine facilities.

Peter Pawlak, analyst,

Directions on Microsoft

announced today, the Cisco and Microsoft technologies will remain separate, although they will be interoperable, DiStasio said. NAP will also offer support for the Internet Engineering Task Force's IPSec, which is one reason for the delay until the Longhorn timeframe, he said.

That delay is disappointing to some experts. "Customers will have to wait that much longer for built-in quarantine facilities," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.

Microsoft also put some firmer target dates on some of its upcoming and long-promised products and technologies. The company reiterated that it will release a 64-bit version of Windows Server, a next generation of Windows Server 2003 called R2, a new version of Storage Server and a Longhorn beta, all in the second half of 2005, DiStasio said.

Customers who bought client access licenses for Windows Server 2003 will not have to buy new CALs for R2. If you don't have Software Assurance, you may need to buy a new server license, but you won't have to buy new CALs, DiStasio said.

DiStasio reiterated that the first open beta of Windows Update Services will be out in November.

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