Anatomy of the Deal: Microsoft and Cisco
An inside look at prominent deals within the Microsoft partner community.
Part of an occasional series.
Cisco Systems Inc. is the leading vendor of networking devices and applications
for the Internet. The networking giant racked up $28.5 billion in sales
in its fiscal year 2006, ended July 29.
Cisco and Microsoft have a history of collaboration on products, architectures
Cisco and Microsoft announced in September at the Security Standard conference
in Boston that the companies' network protocol technologies -- Cisco's
Network Admission Control (NAC) and Microsoft's Network Access Protection
(NAP) -- will interoperate. The companies had announced two years ago
that they would work toward interoperability of the standards. Both protocols
are aimed at preventing infected devices from accessing corporate networks.
Mark Ashida, general manager of Windows enterprise networking at Microsoft,
says NAP consists of two pieces: a client component that will be included
in the forthcoming Vista operating system and a network policy server
component that will run on the forthcoming Windows "Longhorn"
server. Therefore, Ashida says, NAP won't be fully available until Longhorn
server ships in the second half of 2007. Cisco's NAC is currently in operation,
and the two protocols will interoperate as soon as NAP is available.
"Start rolling out Cisco NAC, and as Longhorn server ships and you
start deploying Vista, you can phase your rollouts," says Joe Sirrianni,
senior solutions manager for Cisco's security technology group. "You
don't have to do any creative scheduling and management of all of that."
Property owned worldwide:
9.9 million square feet
Property leased worldwide:
12 million square feet
Total amount of property:
21.9 million square feet*
Microsoft; *as of August 2006
How Partners Will Benefit
Independent software vendors (ISVs) have a single application programming
interface (API) to write to, Sirrianni notes. "VARs can create a
solution that leverages most efficiently what the customer has already
and deploy where the customer is going," he says.
Neil MacDonald, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc.
in Stamford, Conn., says NAC-NAP interoperability will reduce the complexity
of deploying network security infrastructures. As a result, both partners
and customers will benefit, MacDonald says: "It makes life a whole
How Cisco and Microsoft Will Benefit
Interoperability will satisfy customers of both companies who were
complaining that a lack of NAC-NAP integration would make for difficult
network set-ups, MacDonald says. "They were under tremendous pressure
from their customers saying this was ridiculous -- it made no sense,"
"[Customers] wanted to ensure that the two companies were working
together," Sirrianni says. "Most customers have a fairly large
Microsoft investment and a fairly large Cisco investment."
Ashida adds that aside from just interoperating with NAC, Microsoft intends
to eventually make NAP available on multiple platforms, including Unix,
Linux and the Macintosh operating system.
"I believe NAP is one of the most open things that Microsoft has
done," Ashida says.
Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.