Microsoft adjusts Forefront security management product plan

23 Apr 2010

Microsoft has made changes to its Forefront software suite in order to focus more on security management.

Following delays to the latest version of the Forefront Protection Manager, Microsoft confirmed in the Forefront team’s blog that it had made the decision not to release Forefront Protection Manager (FPM) to market.

FPM had been intended to manage multiple security products under the Forefront umbrella, including Forefront Protection for SharePoint, Forefront Protection for Exchange and Forefront Endpoint Protection (for desktop and server OS security.)

The world’s largest software company said it took the decision in light of the evolving enterprise IT market. “In order to best help customers simplify the security experience and manage compliance, we are aligning security management with systems and application management,” Microsoft staffers wrote.

Messaging and collaboration workload tools

Instead of releasing Forefront Protection Manager, Microsoft will release multi-server management for Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server (FPE) and Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint (FPSP). These tools are for messaging and collaboration workloads, and will be made available both as on-premise software and via the cloud.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that Microsoft’s move effectively marked the company’s exit from the desktop security software market. A spokesman for Microsoft in the US told that Stirling, the codename for all Forefront Protection Suite products, is “alive and well. The company had “shipped several products in the last few months, and more coming. We just changed the security management product plan,” he said.

In the meantime, Microsoft said it planned to release two add-ons in the second half of this year at no extra cost to FPE and FPSP customers. The first is a Service Pack release for our established Forefront Server Security Management Console (FSSMC). The second is a Forefront Server Security Script Kit that will allow IT administrators to use Remote PowerShell to configure and report on multiple deployments of FPE and FPSP throughout the enterprise.

As part of its new strategy, Microsoft had already announced that Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 would be built on System Center Configuration Manager for centralised deployment, configuration, updating and reporting. 

“This will allow customers to configure, patch, and protect their desktops and laptops with the same infrastructure, delivering comprehensive security with greater efficiency. This solution is on track for a planned release to market in the second half of 2010,” Microsoft said.

By Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic