Q&A: Key Updates to Microsoft’s Security and Access Product Strategy Unveiled

REDMOND, Wash., June 12, 2006 – This week at Microsoft Tech•Ed 2006 in Boston, Microsoft marked several security product milestones as part of a broader customer commitment to “Protect information, Control Access.” To get a better sense of how these and other recent announcements support this promise, PressPass sat down recently with Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Security, Access and Solutions Division (SASD) .

PressPass: Can you give customers a quick overview of the security product news being announced today and the progress made over the past few months?

Kummert: Today we’re excited to share a number of security announcements which highlight our progress and commitment to enabling business customers to protect and provide secure access to their IT environments. In February, we announced a series of betas for our client, server and network-edge security products. Last week, we launched Microsoft Antigen e-mail security products, and today we are launching ISA Server 2006, our integrated edge security gateway, and disclosing a feature update on our client security product. These announcements come soon after last month’s news of our intent to acquire Whale communications, an SSL VPN and application firewall solution.

Today we are also outlining our updated security product strategy and roadmap and announcing the new Microsoft Forefront brand, which will be rolled out with the next wave of our business security and secure access products across client server and network edge.

We’re making these announcements in the context of the broader Microsoft vision for IT professionals, outlined by Bob Muglia during Sunday’s keynote at Tech•Ed 2006, and our corresponding promise to enable customers to “Protect Information, Control Access.”

PressPass: How does the Security, Access and Solutions Division deliver on the customer commitments shared by Bob Muglia at Tech•Ed 2006?

Kummert: Microsoft’s vision is to empower IT professionals and developers across the IT lifecycle through integrated software development. Our commitment is to build a portfolio of software and tools that supply the infrastructure for the “people-ready business.” This commitment is reflected in Bob’s four interconnected customer promises to IT pros and developers.

SASD products support the commitment to “Protect Information, Control Access.” By enabling customers to better protect their IT environments and provide secure and appropriate access to applications and data, we can help them unlock business value within their existing infrastructure and empower employees to better address the needs of their customers.

In order to successfully deliver on this promise, Microsoft is building security into all products form the ground up as part of our Security Development Lifecycle initiative, as well as delivering an industry-leading set of security and access solutions and technologies.

Press Pass: Tell us about the next generation of Microsoft Forefront products.

Kummert: Forefront products reflect Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to provide a comprehensive set of security products across client, server and edge that integrate with existing infrastructure and simplify the task of managing and controlling IT security and access. The first Microsoft Forefront products will be Forefront Client Security (formerly Microsoft Client Protection), scheduled for open beta in the fourth quarter of this year, and the next generation of our Antigen products. Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint are timed to coincide with the upcoming Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007 launches. As Microsoft ISA Server continues to evolve, customers can also expect a Forefront version of our integrated edge security and access gateway. To provide customers with further choice and flexibility, Forefront products will be available as stand alone solutions or as part of the Enterprise CAL suite, the Exchange Enterprise CAL suite or an integrated security product suite.

Press Pass: What are the key customer pain points Forefront products seek to address?

Kummert: Customers are facing a broader, more complex and diversely motivated threat landscape. Attacks are increasingly advanced, more carefully targeted and often aimed at specific applications. In protecting themselves from these threats, customers are faced with a vast array of solutions, each of which will protect a given point against a specific threat. However, implementing such a combined collection of security solutions can provoke configuration and integration difficulties, making it more costly and complex to manage, control and report on the security of their environment.

By equipping customers with the ability to effectively secure their environment and securely enable the access scenarios their businesses require, Forefront products will help them unlock the full business value of IT applications and infrastructure.

PressPass: Today you announced product news on Microsoft ISA Server 2006 and Forefront Client Security. How will these products add value to customers?

Kummert: Microsoft ISA Server 2006, launched today, is an integrated edge security gateway that helps protect IT environments from Internet-based threats while providing users with fast and secure remote access to applications and data. ISA Server addresses key customer needs in a number of increasingly prevalent business scenarios.

For Branch Office customers who need to connect to and secure branch offices while efficiently utilizing network bandwidth, the product provides HTTP compression, caching of content – including software updates – and site-to-site VPN capabilities integrated with application-layer filtering. To address the growing prevalence of Web-based threats, ISA Server also provides Web Access Protection with a hybrid proxy-firewall architecture, deep content inspection, granular policies, and comprehensive alerting and monitoring capabilities. Finally, for customers who require secure access to Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and other Web applications from outside the corporate network, ISA Server 2006 offers Secure Application Publishing. This is a huge value add for companies with large remote workforces, companies like Northwest Airlines, who take advantage of ISA’s tight integration with Active Directory and Exchange to provide secure remote access to applications.

Microsoft Forefront Client Security (formerly Microsoft Client Protection), is currently in private beta and feedback from this program has led us to make a number of enhancements to the product. One of the key challenges customers face when protecting desktops and laptops is that of controlling and managing the state of client security across the organization.

As a result of customer feedback, we have enhanced two key features designed to improve system manageability; the State Assessment Scan, which helps determine which machines need patches or are configured insecurely, and Single Profile Configuration, which simplifies security policy implementation across the organization. By simplifying the visibility and management of desktop and laptop security, we can enable IT administrators to better secure their environments, regardless of where those machines may be located. Microsoft Forefront Client Security will be available as a public beta in the fourth quarter of this year, and is expected to be broadly available in the second quarter of next year. Microsoft Forefront Client Security’s scanning engine and definition updates benefit from the malware data Microsoft collects from a number of sources, including our Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). Today, we released a whitepaper detailing the malware threats we’ve detected and analyzed over the last 15 months through the MSRT.

PressPass: How does today’s product news build on other recent announcements made by your division?

Kummert: Last week, we delivered our Microsoft Antigen e-mail security products, Antigen for Exchange, Antigen for SMTP Gateways, Antigen Spam Manager and Antigen Enterprise Manager. Antigen’s multiengine approach to virus scanning addresses the basic customer need to deploy the best possible protection on mission critical e-mail servers without impacting performance. It’s an approach which has already earned it a faithful customer base of over 12,000 companies, companies like Perot Systems who leverage Antigen’s multiengine approach and tight integration with Exchange to process fifteen million e-mail messages a month.

Also, in May we announced our intent to acquire Whale Communications Inc. whose technologies enable secure access to business applications and data from more locations and devices. We look forward to closing the acquisition, post regulatory review, and offering our customers more choice to meet the business needs of increasingly mobile workforces.

PressPass: How does this support Microsoft’s broader commitment to customer security?

Kummert: Job one for us remains customer security, providing our customers with the tools they need to secure their environments. To achieve this, we will continue to ensure the highest degree of quality in Microsoft software, deliver new security technology innovations in the Windows platform, and invest in and develop security products and services that meet business and IT security needs. By enabling customers to effectively protect information and control access, we can help them align their IT operations with their business needs and realize the full value of their infrastructure investments.

Related Posts