Last week I came out to Redmond for 5 days of training on the Forefront Protection Suite, formerly Forefront codenamed “Stirling”. The final name was announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference:
Forefront codename “Stirling” - the next generation of the Forefront Security Suite for integrated, comprehensive protection across endpoints, servers and the edge – will be officially known as Forefront Protection Suite (FPS).
FPS will include the products in the current suite, plus the Forefront Protection Manager (formerly known as the “Stirling” management console) and the Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Security Service.
The training was pretty interesting. We covered most of the components of the suite, the console, and the integration between all the components. That integration is going to be the real differentiator. Client, Server, and Edge security can all be tightly integrated as well as Network Access Protection (NAP). The solution is built on top of PowerShell so there are significant automation capabilities even beyond the in box solutions.
With very capable component pieces and many integration points, there are a huge number of implementation scenarios and options. This can be very powerful but also a bit daunting until you gain experience with the products. The suite leverages the System Center infrastructure, particularly Operations Manager.
I came away from the 5 days pretty impressed with the suite and the scenarios it enables but also with a healthy respect for the effort required to implement the solution. If the appropriate time and resources are allocated, the end result can be a very robust security infrastructure and most importantly a single console providing situational awareness and reporting across the entire security infrastructure.
If you want to take a look at the suite yourself, the Beta2 release is available here both in installable form and in a pre-configured virtual machine.