Did Microsoft just pull the plug on its secure Web gateway product?

Summary:Microsoft may be discontinuing its Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) product, according to information from analysts with the Gartner Group. But Microsoft is neither completely confirming nor denying Gartner's assertion.

Microsoft may be discontinuing its Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) product, according to information from analysts with the Gartner Group.

(I am qualifying this information with the word "may" because Microsoft is declining to provide a clear answer as to what's going on with its secure Web gateway product.)

Here's the back story. As noted by Deb Shinder, a blogger with TechRepublic and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Enterprise Security, Gartner omitted Forefront TMG from its May 25 Magic Quadrant report for secure Web gateways. Shinder explained:

"On  page 5 (of the Gartner report), you’ll find a statement that is likely to shock and dismay many Microsoft customers, which says that Microsoft has confirmed to Gartner that it is not going to be shipping another full version release of TMG. The report goes on to say that TMG is in sustaining mode and Microsoft doesn’t intend to compete head-to-head with other vendors in that space. The good news is that the usual five year mainstream/five year extended support lifecycle still applies."

I sent an e-mail asking Gartner's PR agency for further details and received no word back. I asked Microsoft officials for an update on Forefront TMG and received this reply:

"Microsoft remains committed to security and will continue to support our customers by providing support for TMG with service packs and other updates through the product’s lifecycle. While Gartner has shared its belief on how Microsoft plans to repurpose TMG technologies, we have no other updates at this time."

A May 28 blog post by security consultant Kent Nordstrom includes additional comment from Microsoft, claiming the company is still very much in the secure web gateway space, in spite of Gartner's comments.

Nordstrom speculated Microsoft might be combining its various gateway products, in preparation for moving the product to the cloud, but then later said his speculation wasn't entirely correct.

My read of all this is there will be no further releases of TMG, but Microsoft won't actually confirm that this is the case. Sigh.

Microsoft released the latest version of TMG, Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 Service Pack 1, in June 2010. The product provides URL filtering, antimalware inspection, intrusion prevention, application  proxy, and HTTP/HTTPS inspection via a single gateway. TMG is the successor to Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server.

Microsoft has been struggling with its Forefront deliverables and direction for the past couple of years. Microsoft recently announced that it is working on new security and identity products for both the server and cloud while it searches for a new head of its identity team.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, IT Priorities

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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