Juniper UAC+NAP, Is It Enough To Win NAC War?

Network World writer Tim Greene has a good piece on Juniper's announcement that it can now use the Microsoft NAP client in place of Juniper's own UAC client. That makes installations using Juniper's UAC for NAC easier to deploy since they don't have to use the UAC client on machines running Windows Vista and XP SP3. But this is a one-way announcement when it comes to Microsoft NAP as it's what enables NAC client machines to participate in Juniper's UAC solution (and Trusted Computing Group's TNC architecture), not the Microsoft-based NAC product solution. Microsoft has a dual NAC strategy; expose the NAP client for 3rd party NAC solutions, and deliver its own Microsoft-centric NAC solution.

While the NAP client helps Windows devices participate in TNC solutions, Microsoft is really counting on the capabilities in Forefront to be the center point of the Microsoft centric NAC solution. Forefront's "Sterling" beta incorporates network access control features into the Forefront management software. Not only can endpoints be tested, but downstream software management and updating features can help keep Windows clients compliant. Forefront Sterling also incorporates personal firewall management, endpoint quarantining, patching, configuration changes, and more. Add in Forefront's own anti-virus, anti-spyware, personal firewall, full management capabilities and NAC capabilities and you have a solution that's really more directed beating out Symantec and McAfee.

As Forefront Sterling gets closer to RC bits, I think we'll see Microsoft beating the drums about its own NAC solution while maintaining capability with 3rd party NAC vendors through the NAP agent.

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