Intel, Cisco Join Forces

At IDF, the pair collaborate on security, Wi-Fi roaming.

Chip maker Intel Corp. and networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. are joining up in a deal to combine Intels chip-based Active Management Technology with Ciscos Network Admission Control architecture and are collaborating to make their respective wireless LAN products work better together.

Intel and Cisco used the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week to announce the arrangement, which will allow Cisco NAC devices to interoperate with systems that use Intels AMT technology so companies can defend against security threats. The companies also demonstrated a set of features called the Business Class Wireless Suite, which is designed for customers who use Cisco access points and Intel-based clients.

The AMT-NAC deal could provide a hardware-secured area for computers to store sensitive network admission credentials, or it could open up the NAC program to hardware and configuration data that cannot currently be evaluated for decisions about network admission, said Bob Gleichauf, chief technology officer of Ciscos Security Technology Group.

Under the partnership, the two companies will cross-license technology for the two programs. Intel will also develop plug-ins that allow AMT information to be exchanged with other software vendors that are part of the NAC program, Gleichauf said. The plug-ins will allow third-party security vendors that have joined NAC, such as anti-virus software makers and vulnerability assessment vendors, to pull information out of the AMT secure storage areas into their products.

The Business Class Wireless Suite will help clients find the most available access point on a network and improve the process of roaming from one access point to the next, said officials at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif.

"Youre making a system-level decision on where to roam," said Alan Cohen, senior director of product management at Ciscos wireless networking business unit. "Its an easier, more efficient roaming process."

Cisco will support the features in new code for its IOS (Internetwork Operating System) and in the CCX (Cisco Compatible Extensions) program, which is designed to let client-side devices work with Cisco gear. Intel will support the features in the next version of its Centrino chip set for notebook computers, code-named Napa, which is due in January.

Customers should see evidence of the AMT-NAC program next quarter, when Intel releases AMT software extensions that allow NAC-compliant devices to evaluate AMT data at the network edge.

Endpoint control programs

  • Trusted Computing Group Trusted Network Connect is a network admission control client/server architecture based on open standards.
  • Microsoft Corp. Network Access Protection uses Microsofts desktop and server operating systems to enforce client health.
  • Symantec Corp. The security software giant just purchased Sygate Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed sum for its Network Access Control technology (unrelated to Cisco NAC).