More players announce NAC plans

Symantec and Juniper team up, Microsoft looks beyond Cisco

Microsoft and Cisco Systems played the role of proud parents on Sept. 6. But with so many questions about when NAC-NAP, as it’s been called, will be available, and how it will work with non-Windows clients and non-Cisco infrastructure, it’s been hard to figure out what the companies created.

Now other companies with a dog in the NAC fight are stepping up with their own plans. Last week, it was Juniper Networks and Symantec, announcing a strategic partnership to build integrated, standards-based access control and end-point compliance solutions.

The companies will integrate their end-point compliance and access control solutions, such as Juniper’s Unified Access Control and Symantec’s Sygate Enterprise Protection, to create standards-based solutions.

“NAC is still immature, but it’s growing fast. There’s real value in collaborating in that area to drive adoption in the customer accounts we share,” said Jeremy Burton, group president of enterprise security and data management at Symantec.

As opposed to Cisco and Microsoft, Juniper and Symantec will make their integration comply with the Trusted Network Connect (TNC) architecture.

“We want to make sure that what we bring to market allows customers to leverage their existing relationships,” said Hitesh Shech, vice president of security products at Juniper.

The thorniest questions are about security policy definition and enforcement, which is what Symantec and Juniper focus on, Shech said.

Steve Hannah, a Juniper engineer and co-chair of the TNC subgroup within the Trusted Computing Group, said architectures such as UAC, NAP, NAC, and TNC must converge.

Even Microsoft is humming along to that tune. Mark Ashida, general manager of enterprise networking servers at Microsoft, said that his company has already proved NAP interoperability with other 802.1x-compliant network infrastructure providers.

Microsoft will demonstrate NAC policy enforcement with gear from Enteresys, Extreme, Foundry, and Hewlett-Packard at Interop in New York this week, Ashida said. That all makes Cisco more Microsoft’s “Mr. Right Now,” than “Mr. Right.”