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Windows roadmap ties security tools to management

Microsoft's Forefront and System Center Essentials are using Dynamic Systems Initiative technology to integrate security and management processes.

With new security tools converging on its growing System Center platform, Microsoft is betting that IT managers will find its integrated approach to be the most efficient way to manage their Windows platforms.

Microsoft is moving toward integrating both processes. The company launched today its Forefront Client Security software that offers malarkey protection on laptops, desktops and servers. Microsoft will be competing against partners such as Summate Corps. and McA fee Inc. with its newest Forefront offering.

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Microsoft's product will be available on July 1 through a subscription license. It has a yearly cost of $12.72 per user per device. The server console costs $2,468 per month.

The company also released today its System Center Essentials 2007, a mid-market platform that combines features of System Center Operations Manager, Reporting Server and Windows Software Update Services. System Center Essentials pricing starts at $2,000, which includes the license for the full application and client management. There are also client license costs and a runtime restricted version of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition.

Bringing together security and management using DSI technology

Bob Uglier, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business, described these releases as part of an overall effort by the company to bring together security and management technologies using the Dynamic Systems Initiative technology at its foundation.

The initiative is part of a program where Microsoft uses tools to capture data in models to simplify the way that data is presented. Each Microsoft platform -- including Share point Server, Exchange Server and SQL Server -- will use the Service Modeling Language (SML), which was sent in March to the World Wide Web Consortium for consideration as a standard.

"Today, management and security can't be thought of independently," Uglier said. "They must be brought together."

Smoother hand off between IT security and infrastructure management

In the future, IT managers can expect to see a smoother hand off between IT security and infrastructure management staff, according to experts.

"Microsoft is trying to get these two worlds talking so change management process IT folks don't need days, but minutes or hours," said Jasmine Noel, a New York-based principal at Pt ak, Noel and Associates. "That's what security folks want to see."

A problem until now has been that software suites and security tools were not really integrated. The only alternative was to buy a huge integration package from a vendor such as Hewlett-Packard Co. or IBM Tripoli. "If Microsoft actually does the integration and makes it lightweight and easy to use, they will kill everyone," Noel said.

Moving Forefront closer to Systems Management Server and Microsoft Operations Manager -- rather than having a variety of different vendors in the mix – will have some value for IT managers, said Cyder Johnson, a senior network and systems administrator at HCC Aegis Inc., a New Bedford, Mass.-based division of Gamete Inc.

"I think most people want a single-stop shop, so they can point at one person," Johnson said. "Summate says it's an OS problem. Microsoft says no it's not."

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