Microsoft Sells Partners on Security

Combined Microsoft security divisions offer big opportunity for Microsoft partners.The Microsoft security efforts include the next-generation of Forefront, codenamed Stirling.

HOUSTON -- When Microsoft combined its Identity and Access Division with its Access and Security Division, it did so knowing that the market the combined entity targets would be worth $67 billion by 2010 to itself and its partners.

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference here, which ran July 7-10, Doug Leland, general manager of the Microsoft Identity & Security Business Group, which is the name of the combined unit, said Microsoft made the move to combine the divisions July 1 to drive convergence across the company's identity, access and security offerings and to accelerate revenue growth, foster deeper customer relationships and lower the cost of doing business for Microsoft's partners.

"There was a converging set of product requirements" that led to the combination of the divisions, and to facilitate the move, "we're delivering a set of integrated and comprehensive solutions," Leland said.

The solutions start with a secure platform for handling access and security across the cloud, the server, the client and the mobile environment. On top of that is a an identity infrastructure, upon which lies an identity based access layer to cover end-to-end access across remote, network, application and information components. Above that is a layer of solutions for protection or threat mitigation covering the cloud, the network, applications and endpoints. And above that layer is a set of management offerings that allow companies to manage their security, Leland said.

"There are a number of point solutions, but customers are looking for an integrated set of solutions," Leland said. "By bringing the two businesses together we can offer the most comprehensive set of solutions."

The Microsoft Identity & security Business Group's product portfolio features access and platform solutions, including Active Directory Federation Services, Windows Rights Management Server, Intelligent Application Gateway 2007 and Microsoft Internet Security & Application Server 2006. The group's security solutions include Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server, Forefront Security for SharePoint, Forefront Client Security and Forefront Security for Office Communications Server. In addition, the group's management solutions include Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 and an upcoming version of Forefront, codenamed "Stirling."

Microsoft announced the first public beta of "Stirling" at the RSA conference in April. Leland said Stirling is a next-generation integrated security system that provides a single console for managing security for an organization's entire IT infrastructure. Stirling is due in 2009, Leland said.

Stirling includes a central management console for security configuration and enterprise-wide visibility, combined with the next-generation Forefront products that span the client, server and network edge, Microsoft said. These products include Forefront Client Security, Forefront Security for Exchange Server, Forefront Security for SharePoint and the next generation of Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server), Forefront Threat Management Gateway.

"Enterprise customers today are looking for a more comprehensive, better integrated and easier-to-manage security solution," Chris Lavelle, vice president for Idea Integration, said in a statement. Idea Integration is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner systems integrator and a Forefront Stirling beta program participant. "Forefront -Stirling' integrates security technologies as part of a centralized approach to desktop, server and network management, enabling customers to take advantage of information gathered at any point in the network to help better protect and manage the environment as a whole. The benefit to customers is not just centralized visibility and control, but also information that can be used to guide policy."

Also due in 2009 is the Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager "2," which is a common platform for user management, credential management, group management and policy management, Microsoft said.

Meanwhile, Mark Hassall, director of partner marketing for the Microsoft Identity & Security Business Group, said Microsoft is continuing with its push for security partner momentum with additional investment in and expansion of its security partner initiative. Indeed, the Microsoft Security Software Advisory (SSA) program now has more than 23,000 partners enrolled, having grown more than 500 percent over last year's numbers, Hassall said. And there are now more than 2,700 partners that have attained Microsoft Security Solutions Competency, showing a growth rate of 350 percent over last year

"Last year we had 4,000 partners in the Security Software Advisory program, now we have 23,000," Hassall said.

As part of its "SSA Jumpstart" program, Microsoft is offering a 50 percent bonus payment on the first claim filed and two free exam vouchers to get certified and attain competency. This is a limited time promotion running from July 1 to September 30, Hassall said.

In addition, Hassall said Microsoft will invest more than 75 million in its identity and security business for marketing campaigns and promotions, sales resources, and partner training and readiness.

"The SSA program has allowed us to generate additional revenue that we can in turn re-invest in our security business," said Andy Papadopoulos, CEO of Microsoft partner Legend Corp., in a statement.