Microsoft improves, rebrands managed security offering

The new Stirling beta is due this week and the company is also spending $75 million on partner programs

Microsoft is updating and rebranding its cloud-based e-mail security service, formerly known as Exchange Hosted Filtering, and spending US$75 million to beef up industry support for its new suite of security software.

The product is being rolled into Microsoft's Forefront security product group and will now be called Forefront Online Security for Exchange. A new version of the service, due in May, will feature improved management capabilities and will be priced at US$20 per seat per year, according to Doug Leland, general manager of Microsoft's Identity and Security Business Group.

The security service is based on technology Microsoft picked up in its 2005 acquisition of FrontBridge Technologies.

Microsoft also plans to release a second beta update to its unified security software suite, code-named Stirling, later this week. The final version of Stirling will start to be rolled out by year's end -- six months later than previously expected - when Microsoft releases its Forefront for Security for Exchange Server and Threat Management Gateway, the next-generation version of its Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server. The other parts of the suite will follow in 2010, Microsoft says.

Leland has been working hard to build out the Forefront line since he took over as general manager of the division in July 2008, and part of that effort has been ensuring that other security products will work with Stirling components. This year, Microsoft plans to spend US$75 million on partner programs to improve the way Stirling works with products form vendors such as Brocade, Juniper Networks, Sourcefire, TippingPoint and RSA.

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