Cisco and Microsoft's announced that their respective technologies, Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) and Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP), will be interoperable. Both technologies are designed to prevent computers from accessing a network unless they meet specific "health" checks.

Both companies demonstrated the new interoperability at The Security Standard conference in Boston during the first week of September 2006. The companies intend to launch a limited beta program for the technology sometime before the end of the year. Customers can expect to be able to deploy the solution after Microsoft releases "Longhorn," the next version of Windows Server, currently slated to become available in the second half of 2007.

"This is exactly what is needed in the market as businesses attempt to understand how to implement a network access control infrastructure in order to increase security amid an increasingly mobile work force and increasingly aggressive threat environment," said Zeus Kerravala, vice president of security and networking research at Yankee Group. "Microsoft and Cisco must work together on this, and I'm pleased to see these two companies make the investment and the engineering commitment for interoperability."

Cisco and Microsoft jointly released a whitepaper that describes how the interoperability works. A copy of the whitepaper is available (in PDF format) at both Cisco's NAC site and Microsoft's NAP site.