Microsoft drops Forefront Protection Manager

The software giant has revealed it will not release one of the key elements of its enterprise security portfolio
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

Microsoft has dropped one of the key elements of its Forefront Protection range of enterprise security software.

Forefront Protection Manager — software that manages the security of Exchange Server and SharePoint Server — will not be released, Microsoft said on Tuesday. The software was scheduled to arrive in the first half of this year. Microsoft now plans to replace it with another server-based product that can be hosted or deployed on-site.

"Forefront Protection Manager will not be released to market," said Microsoft in a blog post on its Technet site. "Instead, multi-server management for Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server (FPE) and Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint (FPSP) will be delivered... both on-premises and in the cloud."

No other details were provided on the replacement product, but Microsoft said it will provide these in the future.

In the interim, the company plans to release two free products for its Forefront Protection customers. One is a service pack release for Forefront Server Security Management Console that is intended to give additional support for multi-server management. The other is Forefront Server Security Script Kit, which enables IT administrators to use Remote PowerShell to configure and report on FPE and FPSP deployments.

Forefront Endpoint Protection will now be built on SystemCenter Configuration Manager, which would allow centralised deployment, configuration, updating and reporting, Microsoft said.

"Converging endpoint security and operations can improve an organisation's overall security posture and efficiency," said Microsoft in a subsequent blog post. "As security management overlaps with other IT functions, Microsoft's integration of Forefront Endpoint Protection and System Center Configuration Manager just makes sense. The right approach is to centralise endpoint security information."

A beta of Forefront Endpoint Protection will be made available in the third quarter of this year, the company said.

The abandonment of Forefront Protection Manager is the latest in a chain of technology and branding amendments and delays to Microsoft's Forefront portfolio, which is also known as Stirling. In both April 2009 and October 2009, Microsoft put back its deadlines for Forefront product releases.

Microsoft has seen other glitches with its security lineup. It admitted to deep problems with its OneCare security suite in 2007, saying the product should not have been released when it was. In 2008, Microsoft replaced OneCare with a free product.

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