BARCELONA, Spain—Microsoft will use the IT Forum at its annual TechEd Europe conference here to announce a set of milestones for IT professionals, including the first public beta of the Forefront Client Security product, which offers anti-virus and malicious software protection and removal.
“This is a very important milestone for us as this is a new business for Microsoft,” said Andy Lees, Microsofts corporate vice president for server and tools marketing, in an eWEEK interview ahead of the conference.
Bob Muglia, the senior vice president for Microsofts server and tools division, is giving the opening keynote at the sold-out show that is expected to draw more than 4,750 IT professionals from around the world.
Muglia will use that address to announce that the Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint products will be available in December to help businesses protect against malware, spam, inappropriate content and unwanted files.
These products are a result of Microsofts acquisition of Sybari and its Antigen products in 2005, which now fall under the Forefront brand.
Both products ship with nine different scan engines from various security vendors, which are integrated and managed in a single solution to provide comprehensive layered protection against the latest threats, Lees said.
Some early adopters, like Andreas Zit, a senior consultant in the Business Infrastructure Department of T-Systems Austria, say they are pleased with what they see so far.
“Based on our early evaluation of Exchange Server 2007 and Forefront Security for Exchange, we are confident the combination of these two products will help ensure we have a secure and resilient messaging environment,” he said.
Muglia will also announce the release of a Sharepoint Portal Optimizer and Dynamic CRM Optimizer, based on the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) VPN solution that Microsoft acquired when it bought Whale Communications.
“Our unique value-add on security is that no one is the leader in client, server, edge and cloud security. While there are different players in this large business, people have point solutions that are not integrated. That can create gaps, or even contradictions, in security strategy, and we think our comprehensive approach helps address that,” Lees said.
Asked about the enormous skepticism that followed Microsoft s move into this security space, given how many security issues its own software faced, Lees said customers had been impressed by its existing Antigen for Exchange and ISA Server products and what they could do.
“I see people taking our entry into the security market as a good thing and we are getting a lot of interest from customers. Well see what interest is like for the Forefront Client Security beta, which is a very important marker for us in getting into that business,” he said.
Muglia will also announce the release of Windows PowerShell, formerly known as Monad, in his keynote.
PowerShell is a scripting engine that lets users automate things across their Windows environments, Lees said, adding that “a lot of Linux users have looked at it with envy as we are not known for our command line stuff.”
PowerShell is available for download here.
Windows PowerShell is used extensively in Exchange Server 2007, Longhorn Server and other products to make automation of management tasks easier and richer.
Asked if Microsoft is concerned about the potential learning curve associated with the PowerShell command line, Lees said that it is a new way of doing things, adding that when people get used to it, they will see how powerful it is.
The fact that the administration is built on top of it and used behind the scenes means that those customers who just use the GUI will not even know they are using PowerShell, which makes it easy for users to quickly get up to speed, he said.
“The way its architected is that we have a GUI for users to do the management tasks, but the GUI actually utilizes PowerShell behind the scenes to execute, and users can look at the PowerShell script that the that the interface creates if they decide not to automate it. Its like recording a macro when you do something and using it over and over to repeat that,” Lees said.
FullArmor, /n Software, Quest Software and Power Gadgets have also announced Windows PowerShell-based products that improve Windows manageability, especially on Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn.”
Muglia will also announce several new developments from Microsoft System Center, including the Systems Management Server 2003 Deployment Feature Pack, which helps make it easier for customers to deploy Windows Vista.
SMS 2003 customers can also use Microsoft SoftGrid, via the SoftGrid SMS connector, to accelerate deployments, reduce complexity and help eliminate application to application compatibility problems.
The upcoming release of System Center Operations Manager 2007, which will be released in the first quarter of 2007, will enable large-scale health monitoring of Windows Vista environments and also provide new service-oriented monitoring functionality of Office System 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, Lees said.
System Center Operations Manager 2007 Release Candidate 1 was released recently and is available for download here.
Muglia will also tell attendees that the release to manufacture date for Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals has been set for Nov. 30.
This role-based software lets the database administrator and architect include the database design as part of a project and get integrated to make it quicker to develop those line of business applications.
Performance updates for SQL Server 2005 SP2,which will be available in the first quarter of 2007, will include data compression, increased business intelligence functionality in SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Analysis Services; security updates relating to Common Criteria; manageability enhancements; and support for Windows Vista and optimization for the 2007 Office System environment.
The October CTP (community technology preview) for SQL Server 2005 SP2 is also available for download.
Muglia will also offer a look at Windows Server “Longhorn,” the next version of Microsofts server operating system, and the new features it brings to support enhanced control, protection and flexibility, Lees said.
Longhorn server is the next frontier for Microsoft now that the code for Windows Vista and Office 2007 have been released to manufacturing, and is expected to be released before the middle of 2007.
Several customers, including MySpace, have already begun to test Windows Server “Longhorn” and associated technologies, such as IIS 7 and Windows PowerShell.
“The benefit of adopting Windows PowerShell is that ad-hoc tasks that used to take upwards of 10 minutes can now run in 5 seconds or less, all the while providing better reporting, greatly increased accuracy and much less manual labor,” said Allen Huff, the vice president of engineering at MySpace, which has also begun to test production loads on the upcoming server.
“Weve already seen a significant reduction in CPU usage and an increase in requests per second from the new IIS7 pipeline,” Huff says.
A customer preview of Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows XP Professional x64 Editions, will also be made available in mid-November, while the final release is targeted for the first quarter of 2007.
“This is an important milestone as we continue to provide support and updates to customers. It packages together critical, non-critical and customer-requested updates into one package, and provides a range of enhancements designed to heighten security, reliability and performance in Windows Server 2003,” Microsofts Lees told eWEEK.
SP2 would also help simplify the deployment of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and “Longhorn” server, he said, noting that there would be numerous demonstrations of all the products at TechEd IT Forum here.
Microsoft also used the show here to announce that a number of European customers have begun evaluating Windows Vista, Office Systems 2007 and/or Exchange Server 2007, including Publishing, British Telecom, BMW, France Telecom Group, and Royal Bank of Scotland.