Microsofts Forefront Security Management Console Ready

The software can be used to automatically download and distribute signature and engine updates.

BARCELONA—Microsoft used its TechEd IT Forum conference here to announce the general availability of its new Forefront Server Security Management Console, a centralized, Web-based management solution for onsite or remote administration of its messaging and collaboration security solutions.

"Customers can use the console to centrally manage and configure servers remotely, automatically download and distribute signature and engine updates, generate comprehensive reports and receive outbreak alerts from across their environment," Steve Brown, Microsofts director of security and access product management, said at a press briefing Nov. 13.

The console, a Web-based tool, helps businesses centrally manage, configure, report on and update multiple deployments of Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint, as well as Microsoft Antigen products, Brown said. It also supports Exchange 2007 Cluster Continuous Replication and integrates with Windows Server 2003 and SQL 2005.

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"Increasingly we see a convergence around security and management, and one of the things customers clearly have a lot of pain over today with their existing solutions is the challenge of the ongoing management of their security solutions, where they are usually faced with up to seven different consoles for policy definition, centralized management and reporting," Brown told eWEEK.

The challenge facing Microsoft had been how to bring all that together, given that global enterprises were running numerous Windows and Exchange servers, as well as a SharePoint collaboration infrastructure.

The solution the company came up with was the Forefront Server Security Management Console, where all of this could be brought together, he said.

"It also does some pretty unique things like auto discovery of Exchange and SharePoint servers, which spring up all over the place inside organizations as groups want to collaborate," Brown said. "But, from an administrative standpoint, that can be a nightmare. So, as part of this discovery capability, these pop up automatically in the console and the administrator can then apply the appropriate security policies and have centralized update capabilities of their anti-malware signatures."

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Brown also talked up enterprise and consumer demand for the companys security products, which faced not only withering criticism from competitors when announced, but also skepticism among analysts about whether Microsoft should be providing security for its own platforms.

He said there had also been strong demand for the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server solution and the Forefront Security for SharePoint product designed to secure that, noting that one in five Exchange on-premise mailboxes was now protected by Forefront Security for Exchange Server.

There has also been more than 1.2 million Forefront product evaluation downloads and trials over the last 12 months, he said.

The availability of Forefront Server Security Management Console follows the release of four other Forefront products over the past year: Forefront Security for SharePoint, Forefront Security for Exchange Server, Intelligent Application Gateway 2007 and Forefront Client Security.

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Recent enterprise customer wins included Del Monte and the Vienna International Airport, which both moved to Forefront Security for Exchange, while Cable & Wireless, Northwest Airlines, Koehler Paper, and T-Systems also use Forefront products, he said.

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