----------------| Windows IT Pro UPDATE |----------------

In This Issue * Microsoft Reveals Cisco NAP Interoperability Plans * From Windows IT Pro: PowerShell Resources * From the Community * Synchronize Your Critical Operations

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***Commentary: Microsoft Reveals Cisco NAP Interoperability Plans
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

You might recall that Microsoft had originally planned to ship a Network Access Protection (NAP), or network quarantine, solution in Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2) but pulled the technology out of the product. At the time, Microsoft said that it was working with Cisco Systems to ensure that both their NAP technologies would be interoperable. Last week, the companies announced their plans.

According to Microsoft, its NAP solution, coming in Longhorn Server, will be fully interoperable with Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) technologies, which will be delivered on various hardware appliances and traditional servers, including those not running Windows Server. Customers can choose to implement either Microsoft NAP or Cisco NAC on the server, and the two companies will continue working together to address future customer needs as they arrive. Additionally, Microsoft says that both Windows Vista and Longhorn Server will include the NAP interfaces needed to interoperate with both NAP and NAC. (Other systems, such as Windows XP, will need to run Microsoft's NAP Agent or Cisco's Trust Agent for NAP.)

So what's the big deal? NAP is, perhaps, the single biggest missing technology piece from Windows Server today. It's designed to ensure that client machines connecting to a secure network infrastructure meet security policies before being allowed to access network-based resources. Systems that aren't up-to-date, an increasing problem with today's mobile workforce, will ideally be sent to a quarantined part of the network and provided the necessary security updates before being given full access. In less sophisticated NAP deployments, these systems might simply not be allowed in at all, until the user manually brings the system up to speed.

By interoperating on NAP, Microsoft and Cisco are essentially letting customers with heterogeneous environments implement a policy-based network health solution that will work across different OS platforms. This gives customers more choice and protects the hardware and software investments they've already made. It also opens opportunities for third-party developers that want to plug into the health-monitoring information provided by both NAC and NAP: Because both share common interfaces, vendors can write solutions that work with both technologies.

Currently, only NAC is available in the market. Microsoft expects to ship NAP as part of Longhorn Server in the second half of 2007, although customers can test NAP/NAC interoperability now by acquiring a pre-release Longhorn Server version (the latest shipped alongside Windows Vista Release Candidate 1--RC1--earlier this month).

This all sounds fantastic, but NAP is a technology desperately needed by companies running Microsoft-based infrastructures. Although Microsoft should be applauded for interoperating with a major networking player like Cisco, it's too bad that NAP is tied to a monolithic release like Longhorn Server and isn't a completely open standard. NAP would have been a wonderful and necessary out-of-band release for current Windows Server versions. So unless you're looking to upgrade to Longhorn Server immediately—an unlikely prospect—now is the time to start investigating other network quarantine solutions.

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***From Windows IT Pro: PowerShell Resources Are you excited about the new scripting capabilities that Windows PowerShell (formerly code-named Monad) will bring to the table? The following resources, which are excerpted from the Windows Scripting Solutions article, "How to Get Started Writing Scripts," will help you get started. Windows IT Pro subscribers can access the entire article at http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/ArticleID/92751/92751.html .

Although Windows PowerShell is still a release candidate, you can start learning about this new commandline shell and its scripting language. At least one book has already been published: Andy Oakley's Monad (O'Reilly, 2005). Another book, Windows PowerShell in Action, is tentatively scheduled for publication in November by Manning Publications. Bruce Payette, a member of the Windows PowerShell team, is writing this book. You can read an unedited chapter at http://www.manning.com/payette.

Other types of resources are also available. Microsoft's Channel9 (http://channel9.msdn.com) has some good basic information about PowerShell. The Windows Power Shell Wiki (http://channel9.msdn.com/wiki/default.aspx/Channel9.WindowsPowerShellWiki) includes download information and a link to an FAQ Web page. The Microsoft TechNet Script Center offers the "Scripting with Windows PowerShell" Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/hubs/msh.mspx), which includes links to articles, Webcasts, and scripts.

Other useful resources are newsgroups and blogs. You can find the microsoft.public.windows.powershell newsgroup on news.microsoft.com. If you don't use a standard newsreader, you can use the Web interface at http://support.microsoft.com/newsgroups/newsReader.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.windows.powershell. PowerShell blogs include the Windows PowerShell blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell and the PowerShelled blog at http://mow001.blogspot.com.

***From the Community

Have a question? Got answers? Join your peers in the Windows IT discussion forums: http://forums.windowsitpro.com/web/forum/categories.aspx?catid=50&entercat=y
Current Threads:
Domain Rename Gone Bad
RDP Users Disconnecting
Folder Redirection Permissions

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