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Juniper Serious About SAML

Network equipment maker Juniper has integrated an industry security standard with its network access appliances in order to help customers safeguard systems.

The company's NetScreen Secure Access SSL VPN products now work with the Security Assertion Markup Language , a specification for sharing authorization data between different security systems.

SAML (pronounced "sam-el") incorporates XML and SOAP and other frameworks to enable security-oriented tasks like single sign-on services.

With SAML, the Juniper product line can communicate with access management products from other firms, including those of Oblix, a developer of identity-based security software.

Through a joint certification testing initiative announced today, Oblix and Juniper will provide customers with a verified interoperable offering set for enterprise identity management and Web access control.

Juniper is also working with Entrust, IBM, Netegrity, OpenNetwork Technologies and RSA Security to promote standards-based architectures.

"The plan is to continue to test and prove interoperability with other products," Dan Spalding, a Juniper spokesman, told internetnews.com.

In addition to bolstered security, Juniper said the offering should save customers money by simplifying deployment. The SAML-enabled products eliminate the need for distributed software agents, the company said. Juniper is looking at other uses for SAML as well.

"SAML can be used for many other different things, such as machine-to-machine communications, and where it makes sense down the road the company could continue its work in the SAML arena," Spalding said.

In recent months, network equipment makers have increased their focus on security features as corporations and government agencies look to limit the damage caused by hackers and viruses.

In February, Juniper paid $4 billion for NetScreen Technologies. The pickup gave Juniper a line of security and access products (the one that's at the center of today's announcement) and bolsters its enterprise client roster.

Juniper's primary rival, Cisco Systems , recently introduced new products and capabilities for its popular Catalyst switch line, many of which dovetail with its self-defending network strategy. Cisco also has made acquisitions in the security space.