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4/29/2008
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Microsoft Adds Two to Forefront Family

Remote access, edge security products now under Forefront umbrella

LAS VEGAS -- Interop 2008 -- Microsoft is adding two edge security products to its Forefront line -- next-generation and rebranded versions of its remote network access product and its network edge protection product, the company revealed here today.

The newly christened Forefront Unified Access Gateway (formerly its Intelligent Application Gateway) and Forefront Threat Management Gateway (formerly Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2006) will be released in public beta versions later this year. Microsoft also announced that it will roll out an updated version of its SharePoint Optimizer for the existing IAG 2007 SSL VPN product next month.

“We wanted to update our naming and branding, and the vision you will see us [following] better over time is the integration and alignment with multiple access solutions across Microsoft” products, says Margaret Dawson, group product manager for Forefront edge products. “We will do a better job of integrating with SharePoint, OWA, mobile, Windows Server, etc."

“This integration with our products and other solutions provides easier management and [better] user experience,” she says.

UAG is an SSL VPN, Web application firewall, and endpoint security management product that allows secure access for remote and mobile users. Threat Management Gateway (formerly ISA Server) is basically a combination firewall and Web caching product that also provides secure access as well as network security.

Dawson says Microsoft sees its application-focused approach to remote access as a big advantage today, especially given the trend of application-level attacks, plus the app-level technology’s ability to granularly control who is accessing what information or resources. “One of the biggest differentiators we have today and will continue to build on is application intelligence,” Dawson says. “In remote access, there are two approaches -- a network-centric view and an application view. Not surprisingly, we have an application focus… to our access solution.”

The new UAG version of its SSL VPN access product will be more integrated with Microsoft’s network access control product, NAP, as well, Dawson says. “SSL VPN is one of the key function areas where we go out and inspect the endpoint and determine the security state of the client, pre-authentication,” she says. “We will continue to integrate that with NAP.”

Among the other new features on tap for UAG is ease of use, with more portal customization and simplified administrative setups. It will also be built on the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 platform, she says. Microsoft also will release a new IAG Optimizer for SharePoint, so that users who want to set up remote access control with SharePoint can do so, she says. That will provide things like pre-configured policies, for instance. “We can control which links within an application someone could access, and the documents in that link,” Dawson says.

Meanwhile, Microsoft provided an overview of what’s next for Threat Management Gateway, which provides secure remote access to internal corporate applications. Among the features that it will be investing in are: beefed up protection from malware and other Internet-borne threats, increased security and ease of use of access in and out of the network, and easier setup and administration, according to Microsoft.

“ISA Server and the future version of Forefront Threat Management Gateway is about network protection, while Microsoft’s IAG and the future version of Forefront Unified Access Gateway is about remote access,” Microsoft’s Dawson says.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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