Microsoft extends security and management product lines

On Wednesday, Microsoft outlined its vision for integrated security and management solutions and announced delivery of key products under the Forefront and System Center brands. In a keynote address to business customers and partners in Los Angeles Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia described how Microsoft was delivering deeper integration with its Forefront and System Center solutions to help customers simplify security management, improve the productivity of IT professionals and more closely align IT to the needs of their business. To help customers achieve this, Muglia launched two new solutions built on the same management infrastructure: Microsoft Forefront Client Security and Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007.

“Customers are under increasing pressure to manage the complexity of today’s business environment while protecting information against an ever-evolving array of threats,” said Muglia. “With Forefront and System Center, we are building integrated solutions on a common management infrastructure, thereby making it easier for organizations to protect their IT assets and deliver high-quality service to their customers.”

Launched today, Microsoft Forefront Client Security is designed to help protect business desktops, laptops and server operating systems from viruses, spyware, Trojans and other current and emerging threats. Microsoft Forefront Client Security delivers critical visibility into threats and vulnerabilities through central management, and integrates with System Center solutions, Active Directory directory services and other Microsoft technologies. During his keynote, Muglia announced that Forefront Client Security had already achieved West Coast Labs Checkmark certification, a leading global standard that certifies information security products to real-world standards.

Muglia also announced the launch of System Center Essentials 2007, a unified management solution to help IT professionals in midsize organizations proactively and efficiently manage their IT environment. System Center Essentials 2007 provides the only unified solution to help simplify a broad set of tasks across the entire IT environment. The solution features a single console from which IT management can view and manage servers, clients, hardware, software and IT services.

Moving forward, Muglia showed how deeper integration between Forefront and System Center offerings would help customers more dynamically address and enable key scenarios, including identity and access, change and configuration management, service management, problem resolution and reporting. Muglia used the context of the Microsoft’s Infrastructure Optimization (IO) model, which charts a course for companies to transform IT infrastructure into a strategic business asset, to show how deeper integration between security and management solutions will benefit businesses of all sizes.

For enterprise customers, Muglia discussed how security and management solutions will be unified through a common service management solution, enabling workflow definition, process automation, and comprehensive reporting across security and management teams. For midmarket and smaller customers with IT professionals performing both security and management functions, Muglia described how deeper integration between security and systems management solutions would provide a standard, integrated set of tools.

Forefront Client Security is licensed on a per-user, per-device basis, starting at $12.72 per user or device, per year for the security agent and at $2,468 per year for the management console. The product is available for purchase today as part of the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License suite via Microsoft Volume Licensing, with stand-alone product availability in July via standard Microsoft volume licensing channels.

Microsoft System Center Essentials is offered as a management server with built-in support to manage 50 clients and 10 servers starting at $2,000. Customers can add up to 500 clients in increments of 20 or five Management Licenses (MLs), priced at $400 and $100 respectively, and up to 30 servers in increments of five and one ML, priced at $500 and $100 respectively. The product will be available in July via standard Microsoft volume licensing and retail channels.

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