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e-Security Inc. plans to announce a deal Thursday that will join its security information management technology with application security hardware from Cisco Systems Inc.

The two companies have signed a joint marketing agreement and will integrate e-Security’s Security Sentinel software with Cisco’s AON (Application Oriented Networking) hardware. The combined product will feed application data collected by AON to the Sentinel product for incident management, problem remediation and reporting, according to Reed Harrison, founder and chief technology officer of e-Security.

Cisco is expanding from traditional networking gear to software and hardware that enhance the performance of software applications that run on networks. On Tuesday, the company used its Worldwide Analyst Conference to unveil software called ANS (Application Network Services). The ANS technology will improve the performance of critical software applications, such as those used for human resources, finance as well as ERP (enterprise resource management) and CRM (customer resource management), according to information released by Cisco.

ANS will improve the ability of those programs to access information, and communicate and collaborate with other applications over networks, the company said.

The deal with e-Security is designed to add value to Cisco’s AON technology, which the company announced in June.

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Under the deal between Cisco and e-Security, AON customers will be able to buy software from e-Security that will be deployed on AON 2600, 2800, 3700 and 3800 Series gear. The software will create an integration point between the two products, allowing application data collected by the AON devices, such as security events and compliance data, to be analyzed by the e-Security Sentinel device.

“We listen at the AON level, take the events, correlate them and create an incident if necessary,” Harrison said.

Sentinel can then send instructions back to the AON device, which can be used to remediate or contain problems, he said.

For customers who already have AON deployed, the deal with e-Security will allow them to add Sentinel’s event correlation and analysis features, as well as workflow and incident response and containment features, Harrison said.

Cisco and e-Security are focused on addressing compliance now, but the integration of the two products could be just as useful for vulnerability management and other functions, Harrison said.

AON is a big part of Cisco’s strategy for the future. The deal with e-Security sweetens the AON offering by adding technology to address regulatory compliance, a major pain point for enterprises, said John Pesactore, a vice president at Gartner Inc.

However, the promised benefits of integrating Sentinel with AON assume that customers are using applications that are already integrated with the AON platform. Today, those applications are few and far between, despite promises from Cisco to partner with IBM, SAP AG and other companies to develop AON solutions.

Still, the e-Security deal is a sign that Cisco wants to build support for the AON platform by signing on a wealth of niche vendors whose products enhance the value of AON, Pescatore said.

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Cisco already owns security event management technology similar to e-Security’s from its purchase of Protego Networks Inc. in December 2004.

Despite that, the company’s story in areas like compliance is not strong, said Zeus Kerrevala, an analyst at Yankee Group.

The e-Security product gives Cisco customers an integrated and easy-to-use interface for doing compliance and event correlation, he said.

However, Cisco is moving slowly in developing its AON platform, Kerravala and Pescatore agreed.

The e-Security alliance is still for companies that are on the cutting edge and looking for ways to speed application performance and integrate security event management with service-oriented applications, Pescatore said.

Software to integrate AON with e-Security is available now from e-Security, Harrison said.

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