Microsoft Helps Customers Achieve a More Secure and Well-Managed Infrastructure
At a major security event, themed “You’re in Control,” in Los Angeles today, Microsoft outlined its approach for empowering IT professionals with more integrated security and systems management solutions and launched two key products, Forefront Client Security and System Center Essentials 2007, designed to help customers achieve a more secure and well-managed infrastructure.
To understand more about how Microsoft is addressing customer needs around security and systems management, PressPass spoke with Bob Kelly, general manager of Infrastructure Server Marketing at Microsoft.
PressPass: What is this trend or industry movement toward the convergence of security and systems management?
Kelly: There are several fundamental shifts in the industry today that are extremely important to our customers and how they think about their IT environments. All of these shifts are driven by a priority to increase return on IT investment, reduce costs and better align IT to the needs of the business.
One of the trends that we’re talking about today is the convergence of security and management, which is driven by a customer need to better manage the complexities of modern-day business and to protect systems against a fast-evolving threat landscape. IT professionals must manage and secure their infrastructure amid an increasingly global and mobile work force and business environment, increased compliance and privacy concerns, and an increasing range of threats.
To address all of this, customers are using many different approaches and technologies in order to secure and manage their environments. As a result, they have way too many point solutions and not enough common infrastructure.
This convergence is about enabling a greater level of common infrastructure across security and management, and providing tools that help meet the needs of both the security and management IT staff. While there is often a separation of duty between security and management IT professionals, these groups do share some common goals around the reliability and integrity of an organization’s data, systems and networks. We want to increase the agility, efficiency and business impact for the security and systems managers through better information sharing and integration.
PressPass: What do customers need to help them address these issues?
Kelly: I think it helps to look at what customers are asking for, which is to reduce the complexity through more common infrastructure for security and management. To do that, they need solutions that are easier to manage and more tightly integrated with each other and with the underlying infrastructure and that help them reduce parallel infrastructure deployments, ensure compliance and address business needs while reducing costs. However, most security and management tools available today do not support this customer need, because they are not integrated with each other or their surrounding infrastructure. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver the full benefits of an integrated security and management platform to customers and that is why we are talking to customers and partners about our approach around the integration of security and management.
PressPass: What is Microsoft doing now and in the future to address this customer need?
Kelly:Today, we offer strong management and security solutions with our System Center and Forefront products. They work together to make it easier for IT professionals to help secure and manage deployed infrastructure and increase the productivity of both IT staff and end users via a common management infrastructure and seamless integration with the Windows environment. With Forefront and System Center, we are already helping customers of all sizes realize the benefits of a more integrated security and management environment and achieve streamlined operations and cost savings, so that IT can be a more strategic asset to the business.
These products are a great foundation and framework for our long-term plans around the integration of security and management. We are investing in this business for the long-haul, and we have a strong plan around how we will continue to evolve our management and security products to ensure that we continue to lead the market. Today marks an important milestone in that plan with the release of two key products. Our engineering teams are working together to build out solutions that are more deeply integrated and address specific needs of companies of all sizes, from small- and mid-sized businesses to large enterprises. Therefore, you can expect to see a lot from us in this area in the coming months and years.
PressPass: What are the customer benefits of working with Microsoft to capitalize on the productivity gains from this integration?
Kelly: One of the key benefits is that we have solutions and services around the integration of security and management today, and we have customer tools and guidance to help our customers more quickly reap the benefits of this integration. Specifically, our security and management solutions enable an IT infrastructure that is easier to secure and manage, which increases productivity and, ultimately, reduces costs.
On the productivity side, Forefront and System Center help IT managers maximize productivity by automating redundant tasks and enabling IT managers to focus more on tasks that improve end-user productivity and impact the business. This is also about keeping the systems up and running. For example, one customer told us that they reduced downtime by 20 percent by adding Forefront for e-mail security. That’s a significant reduction, which results in greater productivity and less headache for the IT staff. By working with Microsoft and our partners, IT managers can leverage the best practices gained from the millions of Microsoft deployments in order to quickly and cost-effectively plan and implement the best management and security strategies.
And they can do so more easily with a simplified management experience. Today, both management and security IT professionals may have to deal with six, seven, or even eight different consoles -- separate consoles to address different security threats, management functions, or for the client, server, and edge infrastructure. System Center and Forefront both substantially decrease the number of management consoles and provide integrated reporting and monitoring to make deploying, configuration and ongoing management easier. One of our customers with a healthcare company estimated they are saving more than 40 percent in system management costs after deploying Systems Center Operations Manager 2007, primarily because of the increased visibility.
On the integration front, System Center and Forefront provide integration both across security and management and across the broader infrastructure. For example, System Management Services (SMS) can be used to deploy Forefront Client Security. Many customers today are also using Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) to push the antivirus signatures to the Forefront Client Security desktop agents. In addition, Forefront and System Center are designed to integrate with the Windows platform and its applications, and customers will see tremendous value by utilizing that common infrastructure.
Both our security and management solutions also do more with fewer products. For example, with System Center Ops Manager 2007, one customer was able to consolidate three configuration groups into one, thereby saving 60 percent in operational costs. Likewise, Forefront Client Security combines anti-virus, anti-spyware, and vulnerability and state assessment into a single solution.
PressPass: There are many other companies moving into security and management or that already have solutions and services in the market. What is Microsoft’s differentiation?
Kelly: First of all, we’re already delivering today what others are promising for tomorrow. There are a lot of companies entering this space, building out solutions or that have pieces of the puzzle. But Microsoft has strong products in the market today with customers deploying and using those solutions. We’ve been in the management business for more than a decade now and have market-leading products for Windows infrastructure. With Systems Center, we leverage our operational knowledge across the infrastructure to ensure more automated and effective solutions. Our partners extend this idea, building strong knowledge-based solutions to support non-Microsoft applications and platforms.
While Microsoft is relatively new to the security products business, our solutions have strong market presence and maturity. For example, our server security products, such as Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint, are actually version 10 products, as these were market-leading technologies that we acquired several years ago and are now building upon. In addition, Forefront Client Security is built on a foundation of proven technologies acquired from Giant Technologies and GeCad. That’s important, because these are proven products now under the Microsoft brand
Secondly, I believe we are the only vendor in the industry who is building its security products on the strong foundation of its management portfolio, with close integration today and with a strong roadmap for total end-to-end integration. As these two product families use a common management infrastructure and platform, Forefront solutions build on the deployment, reporting, and remediation capabilities of System Center management solutions, and customers can be assured that Microsoft is investing heavily in both the evolution of our management and security portfolios and the integration of these solutions.
Thirdly, we are doing what Microsoft does best -- providing ease of use to customers. This was one of the main reasons customers asked us to join the security products market; they knew Microsoft would provide greater ease of use and ease of management than the products available. We are making sure that the security professional and the management professional have tools that make it easier for them to do their incredibly complex and important jobs, and that help them to comply with all of the external regulations and with corporate policy.
These are great benefits to customers and things that we think are truly differentiated in the market place.
PressPass: So what’s next from Microsoft around the integration of security and management?
Kelly: In the short term, we are going to roll out these new security and management products and continue working with customers to help them realize the benefits around the integration, ease of use, and improved productivity they enable. And we are already executing on our technology roadmap for the next generation of products that will be even more deeply integrated, and we will be announcing more around this in the coming months. I am excited about the work we have done in this area and how we are building out these solutions. We have a great foundation and framework for long-term integration and evolution, and we are investing in this business for the long haul, so customers that deploy these products now can be ensured of a strong return on investment and benefit both today and in the future.
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