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Showdowns and standoffs: Another ho-hum week for Cisco

Cisco Systems Inc.'s security strategy is once again in the spotlight, but not because of what the networking giant is doing. Instead, it's the company's competitors that are forging ahead, putting new pressure on the market leader.

Just recently, Microsoft announced that it was moving forward with its strategy to add perimeter security technology to Windows, setting the stage for a showdown with Cisco. The networking giant's Network Admission Control technology, on the surface, seems to be in direct conflict with Microsoft's planned Network Access Protection offering.

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Additionally, News Writer Jim Rendon wrote how hungry competitors like Enterasys Networks Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. are challenging the perception that Cisco networks are the most secure by making things as easy as possible for admins and ardently supporting security standards.

Despite the challenges, for now it's safe to say Cisco isn't concerned. It's already working with Microsoft to find common ground between NAC and NAP. Even if that negotiation goes nowhere, it's easy to envision network managers falling in line behind Cisco, which owns as much as 80% of some enterprise networking niches, as opposed to Microsoft, which is a relative newcomer to the data center and doesn't exactly boast an impressive track record on security.

In the long term, Cisco should be more concerned with ensuring that it holds onto the market share lead in its core product areas, especially network security. If its competitors can boast products that are just as secure, cost less and are easier to use, then suddenly security will be the least of Cisco's worries.

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