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IBM, Cisco Move Closer on Security

Coming off a week when IT security pros were on high alert, IBM and Cisco today unveiled joint offerings to gird enterprise networks against viruses, worms and hackers.

The Armonk, N.Y., and San Jose, Calif., IT giants aim to help customers build "self-defending" systems that cover critical points of business computing -- from laptops to network entry points to back-end systems.

"Customers have tried to cobble together security solutions from disparate vendors," Dave King, director of business development for Cisco's security unit, told internetnews.com. "It hasn't been as effective as they thought."

Initial offerings include the merging of Cisco's Secure Access Control Server and IBM's Tivoli Identity Manager Software. The partnership will also link security chips in IBM laptops and desktops with Cisco virtual private network products.

Big Blue will also join Cisco's Network Admission Control program (a blueprint for defending against viruses and worms) and plans to integrate certain IBM Tivoli security management software with Cisco infrastructure products that are part of the program.

Finally, IBM Global Services will offer security consulting and planning to shore up existing IT security and engineer improvements.

It isn't the first time the companies have worked together. Previous initiatives include storage and hardware and software integrations. Today's offerings have been in the works for about a year are available immediately, said Chris O'Connor, director of corporate security strategy at IBM.

They will be sold through the company's regular sales channels, both to new customers and to existing users as upgrade options.

Pricing is similar to what IBM and Cisco charge regularly. The benefit, O'Connor said, is that customers have a unified offering backed up by two of the biggest names in IT.

The joint systems were tested in an enterprise environment, but government agencies are also a target customer.

"The government market is trying to create standardization and repeatable patterns," King said. "This plays very well into that."