IBM and Cisco Systems, which both have major operations in RTP, are joining forces to address security concerns resulting from multiple, disparate products and services.

As part of their long-standing strategic alliance, IBM and Cisco say they will integrate various products to help customers build “self-defending environments” that will span critical points of business computing … from laptops to corporate data.

As a result of this collaboration, companies can protect systems, applications and networks by integrated security technologies from IBM and Cisco. They will be able to identify systems that are not compliant with established security policies, after which the IBM and Cisco security technologies will adapt to breaches, the companies said.

Initially Cisco and IBM will deliver integrated user provisioning, which combines the Cisco Secure Access Control Server and IBM Tivoli Identity Manager software. This can reduce common security risks, such as invalid user accounts that can lead to identity theft or intellectual capital theft, the companies added in a release.

Another new feature is integrated endpoint security. Businesses can now use the embedded security chip, an IBM ThinkVantage Technology, to connect and to both wired and wireless networks by using new Cisco virtual private network (VPN) solutions. By using encrypted authentication information stored inside computer hardware, coupled with the secure connectivity provided by VPNs, companies can help prevent unauthorized remote network access.

The Cisco Security Agent will be integrated with IBM clients and servers to help provide network attack protection from worms and viruses. IBM also plans to offer the Cisco Security Agent through its website when customers purchase eServer xSeries products.

IBM will also join the Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) program and plans to integrate certain IBM Tivoli security management software with Cisco infrastructure products that are involved in the program. The Cisco NAC program allows customers to examine the security status of endpoints such as PCs and servers, and automatically permit or deny endpoint access to network and system resources based on customers’ pre-defined corporate IT security policies.

IBM Global Services will provide services to help assess a customers’ combined IBM and Cisco IT infrastructure; design and implement integrated security solutions; and services that will provide the skills to manage a customers’ security operations, and administer or outsource security controls, if requested.