Microsoft announced availability of Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) 2010 this week combining a new antivirus engine with behavioral techniques and personal firewall features.
Integration with Microsoft's Configuration Manager will be attractive to organizations that are already treating security as operational assurance. Microsoft realizes that security will soon be driven by the major infrastructure vendors as customers look to purchase security as part of something else (e.g. application, infrastructure) more than a standalone capability. Unique business advantages position Microsoft to have a major impact with its Forefront products.
Organisations with Microsoft enterprise licensing agreements will receive Microsoft Forefront security at discounts that reflect their corporate commitment, have trained support staff and processes in place, and know how to reach corporate executives when necessary.
Shifting commodity security to an infrastructure vendor can save enterprises time and resources just from having one less vendor relationship to manage.
Tight integration with Configuration Manager and with SQL/Server and Exchange allows Microsoft to focus on operational features to improve customer's business, with security delivered intrinsically within the infrastructure. This will help businesses optimise the effectiveness of valuable security professionals while also enhancing IT productivity.
In fact, Microsoft could take it to the next level and just bundle Forefront software with Windows and major application servers.
Cloud-based approaches fundamentally change the business model of software vendors, and the expense model of enterprise IT. Microsoft has learned that they cannot wait for service providers and security vendors to protect Windows computing environments - this is a responsibility that Microsoft needs to take on directly. Microsoft's internal infrastructure and cloud services places the company in a strong position to capitalize on the cloud in bringing manageable security to its customers.
Security practitioners love to talk about security as a 'business enabler', rather than as a 'business expense' that must be endured to meet compliance mandates. However, enterprise IT and security organizations are more pragmatic with an approach that information security exists primarily to plug assurance gaps in the infrastructure that could affect business operations.
Security features are generally destined to be commoditised as part of something else - such as document processing, email and web applications, and network connectivity.
Microsoft still has challenges, such as crazy-long release cycle times, and there is still plenty of room for competitors to innovate. The can substantially increase their advantage by continuing to align security with core infrastructure products.
In the meantime, the Ogren Group recommends that IT check out FEP to see if it offers resilience against attacks in a manner that is easier for your team to manage. The benefits of FEP will be appeal to many Microsoft shops.
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