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Microsoft's security, identity integration plan dragging

Microsoft executives say the company's ambitious plan to integrate security and identity software is progressing slower than hoped but that the foundation for the work will be set early next year.

“It is fair to say that getting this done in non-trivial,” says Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's server and tools business. “It is taken us perhaps a little longer in some areas then we would like, but we are pretty excited about the progress that we are seeing.”

Muglia says Microsoft is in the final test phase with ForeFront Identity Manager 2.0, which is one foundational element of the platform. Identity Manager is slated to ship early next year. It was previously known as Identity Lifecycle Manager. “This ties together the identity management across an organization and enables the foundation for security configurations and security policies that run on top.” Muglia says.

In April, Microsoft detailed a long-term security strategy that will see it combine its identity management efforts with its Forefront security products built for clients, servers and the network edge.

The company plans to integrate its security and identity products under the Forefront brand, offer software-as-a-service versions and present it all as a layered defense of access and control for its corporate infrastructure software.

Microsoft plans to pull together Active Directory, Forefront software, third-party products and tie it all together with the forthcoming Forefront Protection Manager console (formerly called Stirling), a centralized management panel for all the Forefront security products also slated to ship in early 2010.

Analysts have called the effort an ambitious plan that will challenge Microsoft to build coherent security architecture.

Microsoft officials say the identity and security message is a natural outgrowth of last year's corporate reorganization that merged two business groups — Identity/Access and Security/Access — into the Identity and Security Business Group.

“We don't see ourselves as providing the only solution that an enterprise customer needs for security; we see ourselves providing a broad foundation of security services that a company can rely upon,” Muglia says. “Then we can work with the rest of the industry to meet the specific needs as they might have for their given organizations on a security basis.”

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