Cisco's Self-Defending Network Takes Shape

Network News Break: Cisco's vision of a self-defending network took more form today as a bevy of NAC-supporting products were announced and the company moves ahead with third-party outreach. Also: Your enterprise IM choices just narrowed by one as AOL and Yahoo reconsider their IM strategies, and SUPERCOMM kicks off in Chicago.

By Michael Hall | Posted Jun 21, 2004
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The security beat goes on, at least over at Cisco, where the company announced an array of products that support its Network Admission Control (NAC) program, an initiative the company launched in late 2003. NAC is a key piece of Cisco's "self-defending network" push.

The NAC program now covers the Cisco 830 Series to Cisco 7200 Series access and midrange Cisco IOS Software-based routing platforms as well as Cisco network security management and access products.

The Cisco Trust Agent software drives much of the NAC program. It's desktop and server software that collects information from multiple third-party security software, such as anti-virus software. It communicates with the Cisco Trust Agent, which passes the information along to other points on a Cisco network where network-access-control decisions are made and enforced. To help network managers get the software out to their clients, Cisco Trust Agent software is available integrated with the Cisco Security Agent, another piece of endpoint software.

On top of NAC turning up in Cisco gear, there's also a component to the program aimed at bringing in third party vendors and offering access to the APIs needed to NAC-enable other security software. The The NAC vendor integration program is scheduled to kick off later this year. The company hopes that security and patch management software vendors will hop on board its initiative.

As we said a few weeks ago, everyone knows that we've got all the bandwidth we need. Making that bandwidth secure is the problem. We'll be curious to see what sorts of design wins NAC picks up once companies besides Cisco and some close partners are involved.

We'll also be curious to see what comes of the Trusted Computing Group's efforts in this area. NAC will work for Cisco networks, but the TCG's vision is a little more broad, and the group is composed of a lot of people who aren't Cisco, including Sun, Dell, RSA, Agere, a few of Cisco's partners in the NAC initiative, and, of course, Juniper.

Elsewhere:

» AOL and Yahoo! both beat a retreat from enterprise IM over the past few days, leaving management services for their respective offerings in the hands of companies specialized in dealing with enterprise IM.

Yahoo's move is the more profound of the two: The company is simply turning its attention to its consumer offerings and dropping its Business Messenger IM service completely, which might not have been such a bad thing considering the entertainment emphasis of its client, which an analyst memorably noted wouldn't be deployed by "any enterprise client with half a brain."

AOL, on the other hand, is staying in the game by leveraging the identity services it can offer over its network, as we recently reported.

» It's SUPERCOMM week this week in Chicago. If you're looking for an overview of what the telecommunications show's all about this year, internetnews.com has a good rundown.

The Week in CrossNodes

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Getting your information in a directory is just half the battle: The other half is finding it. Here are three LDAP browsers, free of charge and up to the task of digging through your data.

Network News Break is CrossNodes' daily summary of networking news and opinion, served up fresh daily. Please send your comments and suggestions to the editor.

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