Customers of Cisco’s Network Access Control (NAC) and IBM’s Tivoli management software will be interested to learn of the companies’ plans to increase security integration between the two systems.

The announcement is the latest round in a "strategic" security tie-up announced earlier in the year, designed to increase the automation of otherwise unwieldy enterprise-level security systems. Once integrated, these systems will be able to automatically "identify, isolate and remediate" any insecure or non-compliant desktop PC, laptop or wireless PDA connecting to the network.

Administrators will set custom policies for computers connecting to the network, specifying password settings, anti-virus version and OS patching requirements. PCs which don’t meet the standards set in these policies will be isolated from the network until such time as they can be updated or users prompted to change settings.

"When we know from NAC that we have an unhealthy machine we will be able to do a real-time update," said Cisco’s European business development manager, Vincent Bieri.

The tie-up makes sense. Cisco lacks desktop management, while IBM lacks the network-level security of NAC. The two also find themselves working together to integrate systems in large companies anyway. Building in the hooks saves the customer time getting the integration up and running themselves. “We were often seeing Cisco and IBM at the same companies building complimentary systems. We have a lot of the same customers,” said Bieri.

The integration comes free to customers of the two systems, though maintenance upgrades will be required for some software. It will also be necessary to invest approaching $10,000 in a Cisco secure Radius server, though some customers will already have this.

IBM will also give customers free access to its "Orchestration and Provisioning Library" (OPAL), an online library of security remediation workflow methodologies.