Microsoft's Forefront 'Stirling' security suite faces yet another setback

Microsoft's Forefront security product family has faced lots of delays and roadmap shifts over the past year-plus. Now there's another one: Microsoft is dropping Forefront Protection Manager, one of the pieces of its planned, next-generation "Stirling" Forefront Protection Suite.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's Forefront security product family has faced lots of delays and roadmap shifts over the past year-plus.

Last we heard, Stirling -- the next generation of the Forefront Protection Suite -- was going to be delivered in a staggered fashion between 2009 and 2010 because of some late-in-the-game product plan changes. (This was the second delay for the suite last year.) As of late last year, Forefront Protection Manager (FPM), technology for managing/security Exchange Server and SharePoint Server, was reset to be a first half 2010 deliverable.

It's now looking, however, as though Microsoft is not just delaying, but is dropping FPM all together. That's what I've heard from my sources, who asked not to be named.

I asked Microsoft officials about the "FPM is dead" talk and was told it was true. Here's the official statement attributable to JG Chirapurath, senior director of the Identity and Security Business Group :

"To align the product roadmap with this strategy, Forefront Protection Manager (FPM) will no longer be released to market. Instead, multi-server management for Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server (FPE) and Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint (FPSP) will be delivered through a streamlined solution for Microsoft messaging and collaboration workloads, on-premises and in-the-cloud, enabling higher productivity and lower management costs.

"To address customer needs in the near-term, in the second half of this year Microsoft will deliver a Service Pack release for Forefront Server Security Management Console (FSSMC) that will expand support for multi-server management to the latest versions of FPE and FPSP, as well as a Forefront Server Security Script Kit that will allow IT administrators to use Remote PowerShell to configure and report on multiple deployments of FPE and FPSP throughout the enterprise.

"As part of this strategy, we already announced that Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 will be built on System Center Configuration Manager and the newly announced Windows Intune follows this same approach of converging endpoint management and security for mid-sized companies."

I'm not sure what's going on here, but Microsoft officials said they'd provide further details on the Forefront blog at a later date. (I'm betting sooner rather than later...)

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