Cisco alliance seeks interoperability, lower integration costs

Cisco Systems Inc. has formed an industry alliance with seven other information technology companies to mesh security products and standards into an interoperable enterprise framework.

Alliance members include Cylink Corp. Hewlett-Packard Co. Microsoft Corp. Oracle Corp. RSA Data Security Inc. Security Dynamics Technologies Inc. and VeriSign Inc. Cisco will incorporate products from some of the alliance members into its product offerings and collaborate to mold interoperability industry standards with others according to company officials. The goal of the alliance which is open to any interested vendors is to formulate comprehensive end-to-end enterprise security solutions said Peter Alexander Cisco's director of enterprise network marketing.

The development of the alliance is part of Cisco's recently announced enterprisewide security initiative to develop a framework that will enable customers to centrally configure a security policy that can be transparently distributed across the enterprise - including remote users - with its multiple devices and technologies. Federal agencies Alexander said will benefit from guaranteed interoperability lower systems integration costs and scalability offered by a standardized end-to-end enterprise security framework.

"The people that most want this are government agencies and large enterprises...they're most sensitive to security " Alexander said. "It will lower the risk of deploying a multivendor IT environment...and at the same time provide comfort from knowing these vendors have tested together. It [the alliance] is intended to be a group of the key vendors in the IT environment...to ensure broad standards for security."

Cisco's new enterprise framework which the company will be rolling out in the next 18 months will be centered around three principles: identity integrity and active audit. The identity principle allows for the use of a single policy for managing security while integrity provides data confidentiality and a secure routing and switching fabric. Active audit will enable network managers to ensure that the policy is consistent and operating correctly and it will detect network misuse and attacks.

Cisco and Hewlett-Packard will collaborate on the design of integrated authentication and authorization for networked applications to produce integrated products for the enterprise while Microsoft and Cisco will work to develop Internet Protocol security and digital certificate specifications.

Cisco will be integrating and reselling customized VeriSign Digital ID technology and services to provide scalable certificate authority capabilities for its enterprise framework. A certificate authority is a trusted third party that authenticates issues and manages digital certificates on the Internet.

Security Dynamics and its subsidiary RSA will integrate their authentication and cryptography products into Cisco's framework and Oracle will provide Cisco links to its databases. Cylink will be integrating its virtual private networking technology into Cisco's routers.

The alliance covers all of the major pieces of the information technology market including servers workstations public-key cryptography and networking segments said Santish Chokhani chief executive officer of Cygnacom Solutions a security consulting firm.

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