Microsoft released two more pieces of its Forefront suite as part of its strategy to merge security and identity technology and create software that stretches across clients, servers and the network edge.
The company made its Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 available and said it had released to manufacturing Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010. UAG will be generally available early next year.
The two pieces of security software are part of a comprehensive plan to integrate Microsoft's security and identity products under the Forefront brand, offer software-as-a-service versions and offer it all as a layered defense of access and control for its corporate infrastructure software.
The entire platform will encompass Active Directory, Forefront software, third-party products and a management console called Forefront Protection Manager (formerly Stirling).
“Two key driving factors for us are to make identity a key part of what security is becoming and what it must become,” says JG Chirapurath, director of the identity and security business group at Microsoft.
The plan, laid out in April, is progressing slower than planned, mostly due to the console component which won't ship until next year, but TMG and UAG were released when Microsoft promised.
TMG's role is as a Web access gateway, protecting users from malicious sites and allowing companies to block certain categories of sites such as gambling.
TMG is the first Microsoft product to integrate with Microsoft's Reputation Services, a cloud-based service that aggregates threat data.
Reputation Services is a database of information collected from 45 million Web domains and billions of Web pages. It also incorporates data from sources such as Hotmail and the Windows Live Security Platform. A collection of partners including Brightcloud, M8e6 and FutureSoft also contribute data.
“What attracted me to TMG were the reputation services, which are analogs to RBL lists in e-mail,” says George Podolak, IT director with PEI Cobb Freed & Partners, a New York architecture firm. “So I am going to catch a lot of this stuff that I know is no good,”
“The key is that it is customizable by IT,” Podolak says. He noted that the company has a client that could be considered a gambling site, but it is categorized as a sports site so users have access.
Podolak plans to roll out the entire Forefront suite once it is released.
“We are putting Forefront on clients, desktops, servers, and all the endpoints,” he says. Podolak might not have been attracted to TMG as a standalone product, he says, but “it is intriguing as part of an overall suite.”
The other part of the suite in Thursday's announcement was UAG, which includes features that extend DirectAccess to non-Windows 7 clients. DirectAccess is a mobile access technology touted as a VPN replacement. It was introduced with Windows 7 and works in conjunction with Windows Server 2008 R2. With UAG, users can extend that to XP and Vista. Users will have to deploy the DirectAccess server component to get the features.