Cisco Systems and Microsoft are to collaborate on a new architecture that allows their security technology platforms to work together. The framework should allow corporate customers to use both Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) and Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) packages. The companies originally promised the feature in 2004.

Combined NAP and NAC essentially consists of various client-side software apps that check and then communicate the health of any PCs, laptops or mobile devices that attempt to connect to a network. Once checked, the device is compared to a policy list before being allowed access.

Cisco and Microsoft said in a statement that they expect to test a limited beta version of the architecture later this year.

The companies reported that the new architecture will be commercially available in the second half of 2007.

www.cisco.com; www.microsoft.com

Breach Security has acquired ThinkingStone, a UK web application firewall company, and is also set to open a new EMEA headquarters in the UK.

Ivan Ristic, chief evangelist for Breach, said: "There is great potential here - the companies are a good fit.

I am also glad that the open-source ThinkingStone firewall will now get additional research and development resources."

Breach, a web application security provider, was founded in 2004 and is based in California.

www.breach.com; www.thinkingstone.com

Juniper Networks and Symantec have begun a strategic partnership focused on unified threat management (UTM) solutions and intrusion protection systems (IPS) for enterprises.

The two parties are also planning to integrate their existing endpoint compliance and access control products, and increase collaboration between Juniper's J-Security Team and Symantec's Global Intelligence Network to deliver security and threat research.

The partnership will involve co-operative sales and marketing efforts between Juniper and Symantec, according to the two businesses.

www.junipernetworks.com; www.symantec.com

BT has won a £10.5 million managed security contract to supply Unilever with a managed firewall service. The agreement builds on an existing deal and will run over six and a half years.

BT will now take over full management responsibilities for Unilever's existing 256 firewalls spread across 68 countries. The telecoms giant will introduce a global management structure to replace the existing regional set-up, according to the company.

Unilever CIO Neil Cameron said he thought the deal had "delivered", and stressed that the main driver for the move was not cost savings.

www.bt.com/aboutbt; www.unilever.com.