REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 14, 2006 – Microsoft is addressing business customer security needs both at the platform and application level and with a set of security solutions under the Microsoft Forefront brand. This week at IT Forum in Barcelona, Microsoft announced new Forefront security products to help protect business customers against the latest threats.
Ted Kummert, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Security, Access and Solutions Division
PressPass spoke with Ted Kummert, corporate vice president, Security, Access and Solutions Division at Microsoft, to understand how the new Forefront security products address key customer needs and how they will work with the upcoming wave of Microsoft platform and application products to provide greater security.
PressPass: What are you announcing today?
Ted Kummert: Today we are announcing key security products across the client, server and network edge, which map to our customer promise to help protect information and control access. First, we are excited to announce the public beta for Microsoft Forefront Client Security, a new product that helps protect business desktops, laptops, and server operating systems from viruses, spyware, and other threats. Second, we are announcing two new server security products, Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Microsoft Forefront Security for SharePoint, which are currently in public beta, and will be available to volume-licensing customers in December. Finally, today we are unveiling new Application Optimization features for the Intelligent Application Gateway, a product included in Microsoft’s acquisition of Whale Communications this year.
These new products were developed in response to customer feedback on two trends in IT security: the growing diversity and sophistication of the threats they are facing and the increasingly complex task of deploying and managing security across their IT environments. These two key factors represent a major challenge to system security and a severe drain on time and resources. By developing solutions that provide comprehensive protection against the latest threats, integrate more tightly with existing infrastructure and simplify the task of deploying and managing IT security, Microsoft Forefront products can go a long way to addressing these key customer pain-points.
PressPass: Tell us about Forefront Client Security. How is it different from other business client security solutions on the market?
Kummert: Forefront Client Security is a new product that helps protect desktops, laptops and server operating systems against emerging threats such as spyware and rootkits, as well as traditional threats like viruses, worms and Trojan horses. Forefront Client Security has been specifically designed to address the needs of the IT security administrator. The product delivers simplified administration and critical visibility into threats while easily integrating into the existing environment. As a result, IT administrators can protect their business desktops, laptops, and server operating systems with greater ease and control.
The public beta can be downloaded today at www.microsoft.com/forefront/clientsecurity. We’re targeting the release to manufacture of Forefront Client Security in the second quarter of next year.
Forefront Client Security is a great example of our broader commitment to deliver products for businesses that provide comprehensive protection, easily integrate with existing IT infrastructure and simplify security deployment and management.
PressPass: You are also launching two server security products. Why haven’t these security technologies been built into the server applications themselves?
Kummert: Improving the security of our platform and application products has been job one for Microsoft over the past five years. The security improvements in Microsoft Windows Vista will make it the most secure Microsoft desktop operating system to date. Likewise, the protection that has been built into products like the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 will dramatically improve their efficiency and resilience. Our goal with Forefront security products is to provide an additional layer of security – on top of the operating system and applications – to help protect our customers’ deployed infrastructure against the very latest threats.
Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint are both great examples of products that provide protection against the latest threats – in this case, viruses, worms, spam and inappropriate content. Each of these Forefront products includes multiple scan engines from industry-leading security firms, such as Kaspersky Labs, Computer Associates and Sophos. The engines are managed and integrated in a single solution to provide rapid response to new threats and facilitate uninterrupted server uptime – even when one engine fails or goes offline to update. We have also worked to improve server integration to further simplify deployment and management, and included new scanning innovations to help maximize server performance, so customers don’t have to make the trade-off between security and server availability.
Forefront Security for Exchange includes Premium Anti-spam Services, with improved IP blocking, content filtering, targeted spam signature data, and automatic updates to ensure the latest spam attacks are identified and stopped. It’s also important to note that while these two new products are branded under the Forefront name, they are based on proven technologies developed and enhanced over the last ten years under the successful Antigen brand, acquired with Microsoft’s acquisition of Sybari in 2005.
PressPass: What are the Application Optimizers you are launching today and how do they map to Microsoft’s broader secure access strategy?
Kummert: Today’s announcement relates to the Intelligent Application Gateway (IAG), which is a remote access solution that combines SSL-based application access (SSL VPN), a Web application firewall, and endpoint security management. The IAG is the only remote access product on the market with Application Optimizers, which add the benefits of customized policy and content inspection for Microsoft applications and third-party CRM, ERP and collaboration platforms. Today, we announced an updated Microsoft SharePoint Portal Optimizer and a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Optimizer. These new features provide customized, policy-based access, content inspection, and improved performance for secure remote access to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 and Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies.
With the IAG, customers can make network resources available anywhere for any user on any device over any network connection. Our strategy is to provide a comprehensive secure access platform that helps customers extend and manage the reach of their information systems.
PressPass: How do you respond to recent concerns expressed by some of Microsoft’s security industry partners about Microsoft’s entry into the security solutions space?
Kummert: As I mentioned earlier, our entry into the security solutions space is one part of a broader commitment to customer security. Because one company cannot do it alone, our security partners also play a major role here and we are committed to working with them to help better protect customers and foster healthy marketplace competition. Our customers have asked us to work with them to reduce the complexity of IT security and I think Microsoft brings unique value to this market with our ability to simplify the management and user experience and more easily integrate with existing IT infrastructure. By offering our own set of security products, we are providing our customers with greater choice as to how they secure their deployed infrastructure.
While some of our products will compete with partner offerings, we are working closely with partners in other product areas. Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) is a prime example of such cooperation. As a policy enforcement platform, NAP is supported by over 70 networking and security solutions partners, to provide an end-to-end access control system for our customers. Our Forefront server security solutions, with multiple scan engines from industry-leading security firms, are another example of Microsoft teaming up with partners to provide advanced protection for customers. In all cases, our overriding priority is the security of our customers; this guides all security product development at Microsoft, and it governs how we work with partners at each stage of that development.
PressPass: What Forefront products should we expect to see in the future?
Kummert: With today’s announcement, we are delivering on our previously announced product roadmap and we will continue innovating to address key customer pain points associated with securing and accessing IT infrastructure. Our goal is to build more functionality and value into our core security products across client, server and network edge and minimize the impact of new threats on our customers’ infrastructure. If we can provide products that simplify the task of securing IT, our customers can dedicate more time and resources to driving greater value for their business.