IBM has signed up four security companies to get their products to work closer with its Tivoli Access Manager management software.

The partnerships, with Digital Evolution, Layer7, Reactivity and Vordel will simplify security management, allowing sysadmins to manage and enforce security policies for XML firewalls using Access Manager, and help companies that are deploying a service-oriented architecture (SOA), IBM said. A service-oriented architecture is a way to build an interactive and extensible set of software services between customers, partners and suppliers.

The four partner companies used open application program interfaces (APIs) from IBM to allow their products to use Access Manager for authentication and authorisation of both users and software services, IBM said. The partnerships will allow network administrators who are using SOAs to manage XML firewalls, traditionally deployed on the edge of the network, the same way as other business applications closer to the network core.

"Now customers who want to deploy XML firewalls and manage SOAs can use the same consistent policy," said Joe Anthony, program director of Tivoli Integrated Identity Management at IBM.

Digital Evolution's Service Manager XML and Web services management and security product, Reactivity's XML Firewalls, Vordel's VordelSecure XML gateway and VordelDirector XML security server and Layer7's SecureSpan product will all integrate with Access Manager.

The goal is to make authentication and the interactions between security technologies between domains transparent for end users, while driving down costs for companies, Anthony said.

The announcement is the latest in a series of recent moves by IBM to increase the integration of its Tivoli products with those of other companies in the areas of management and deployment. In April, IBM unveiled its new WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation software, which customers can use to build applications within an SOA, turning existing Web services and packaged applications into reusable services.

Also in April, IBM said it will improve support for Cisco's products with its management software, including the Tivoli Provisioning Manager and SAN Manager products. It also said it plans to better support Cisco products with its Global Services group.