Enterprise applications vendor SAP and networking company Cisco Systems are touting their new marketing alliance on governance, risk and compliance (GRC) business processes as a major milestone in their 18-month-old partnership."This puts together two giants in their fields," Shai Agassi, president of SAP\u2019s product and technology group, said during a Wednesday conference call. "It allows us to look at the GRC problem from top down with [SAP\u2019s] processes and information, and from the bottom up with [Cisco\u2019s] network and infrastructure, and then connect up the dots."The two companies firmly cemented their budding friendship in May 2005 when Cisco signed up to license SAP\u2019s service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform known as Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA).Since that time, the vendors have been discussing a variety of areas for cooperation, but the move to team up on GRC announced Wednesday was driven by their customers, according to Doug Merritt, executive vice president and general manager of SAP\u2019s suite optimization products and technology group. Some 80 percent of SAP\u2019s customers also use Cisco technology.The move brings together SAP\u2019s upcoming trio of new GRC applications with Cisco\u2019s service-oriented network architecture (SONA), which debuted in December. SONA aims to link together all the IT resources in an enterprise\u2019s network including servers and storage, building more intelligence into the network through the use of services that operate across all the resources.The new SAP products are GRC Repository and GRC Process Control, due out on Nov. 30, and GRC Risk Management, expected to ship sometime in December. Cisco hopes to come out with tools and adapters to make it easier for customers to use the GRC\/SONA combination in the same time frame, said Bill Ruh, vice president of advanced services at Cisco.The relationship is initially focused on SAP and Cisco working with customers and partners in the United States\u00a0and Canada, but the vendors plans to expand the deal to include other geographies, Merritt said. When SAP\u2019s products appear later this year, they will be available globally. The vendor has yet to release pricing for the new GRC applications, and although it\u2019s offering them as separate products, Merritt expects them mostly to be bundled with existing GRC applications such as Compliance Calibrator and Firefighter.SAP is planning other third-party vendor partnership announcements around its GRC offerings, but its executives Wednesday kept emphasizing the "unique" nature of the tie-up with Cisco.Over the past four to five months, the two companies have been working on integrating Cisco\u2019s network infrastructure with SAP\u2019s application infrastructure. They\u2019re also defining use cases or real-life scenarios for deploying the GRC\/SONA technology combination, Merritt said. So far, the vendors have developed four to five scenarios, in the areas of how best to ensure confidential data like Social Security numbers is not deliberately or inadvertently leaked within or outside a company, and around customer support service-level agreements.In recent years, SAP has committed to more collaboration with other IT vendors, Merritt said. "SAP has really changed its stripes; that\u2019s hard for a grown tiger to do," he added.For the moment, the GRC Repository is full of SAP compliance policies, but the vendor is keen to establish "an open ecosystem" around the product, encouraging vendors and customers to populate the repository themselves. Merritt expects SAP to make a number of additional GRC announcements before year\u2019s end whereby customers will commit to help "prime the pump" for content for the repository, he said. Cisco\u2019s Ruh agreed. "Within the repository, we can see our policies interacting those of our partners and of SAP; there will be a lot of synergies," he added.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Related Link:\n\nSAP Unveils GRC Products, Announces Cisco CollaborationCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.