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Microsoft Delays 'Stirling' Security Suite

Microsoft has delayed the release of an upcoming enterprise security suite that integrates Microsoft Forefront security solutions, the company announced late last week.

The suite, code-named "Stirling," is designed to address various aspects of enterprise security, including "endpoint, messaging and collaboration, and network protection," according to the Forefront team blog. It will also have a management console for centralized security administration.

Microsoft attributed the delay to customer requests for interoperability with third-party security packages, according to the blog.

However, product timing could be another reason for the delay, as suggested by Donald S. Retallack, Ph.D., research vice president for systems management and security at Directions on Microsoft.

"Although Microsoft has not said so, it is reasonable to assume that the timing has been affected by the progress with Office 14, particularly Exchange 14 and SharePoint 14, which will be available in early 2010," Retallack stated in an e-mail. "And, it's an ambitious project to tie all the security products together."

Retallack also noted that users of the Sterling beta released in April have reported concerns about real-time dynamic response for updates.

"Customers apparently like the real-time monitoring, but would like to do updates manually rather than have them automatically applied," he explained.

The Stirling suite is now slated for release with Forefront Server Exchange and Threat Management Gateway in the fourth quarter of this year. Forefront Client Security 2.0 (Stirling's management console), and Forefront Security for SharePoint are scheduled for release in the first half of next year, according to Microsoft.

A version of the Threat Management Gateway is already available as part of Essential Business Server, which was released in November of 2008.

According to Retallack, Forefront Client Security 2.0 was originally planned to include Generic Application-level Protocol Analyzer (GAPA).

"GAPA was developed by Microsoft Research to aid analysis of real-time data such as video streams, and Authorized Software Management, which allows only known good applications to run (white listing)," Retallack said. "Those will now be in a post-Stirling release of Forefront."

Another reason for Microsoft's pause with Stirling is that the company is "investing significantly" in Dynamic Signature Service, a behavior-based technology, to protect against zero-day attacks at the endpoint, according to Microsoft's blog.

The Microsoft Identity and Security Team is expected to make another announcement concerning Forefront next week, according to Retallack.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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