Microsoft and Cisco, both attacking the high speed network access market from different angles, have signed a joint deal on tunnelling.
The companies have paired up on a protocol for tunnelling, a fast way of interconnecting using IP packet switching across the world, whether using landlines or Russian satellites.
Both companies have now agreed on a tunnelling technology to make Layer 2 forwarding technology, originally developed by Cisco, available to both companies.
That could prove a blow to other companies and their standards for tunnelling. Digital, in particular, is expected to suffer from any standard agreed between Cisco and Microsoft.
The combined wealth of the partners, who recently allied on Active Directory developments too, could dwarf efforts from 3Com and Bay Networks to introduce alternative tunnelling strategies.
The major blow to their hopes is that the Cisco-Microsoft agreement will be included in the long, and rather eagerly awaited, Windows NT 5.0 releaset.
Cisco refused to comment on terms and conditions of the deal.
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