Microsoft is on track to begin testing a console by the end of the year that will give customers a single tool for managing all of its Forefront enterprise security products.
Code-named Stirling, the console will manage Microsoft security products for desktop clients, instant messaging servers and email, as well as antispam applications and two of Microsoft's gateway security products, said Steve Brown, director of product management for Microsoft's security and access division. Stirling will handle the creation of security policies, configuration tasks and centralized reporting.
"What we consistently hear from customers is they're in a lot of pain today apparently trying to do the day-to-day management of their security systems," Brown said, at Microsoft's IT Forum customer event in Barcelona.
The move reflects a trend among security vendors such as Symantec and McAfee to let customers manage several products through one console. For the vendors, it helps them convince clients to buy more of their security products. If customers use products from multiple vendors they usually have to manage them separately, which is more time consuming.
Microsoft plans to release a limited beta of Stirling by the end of the year, and for the final product to ship by the end of 2008 or in early 2009, Brown said. Last month, Microsoft released one component, Forefront Security Server Management Console, that will eventually be folded into Stirling.
That console, which ranges in price from $50 to $100 (£25 to £50) per server per year, is used to manage Forefront security products for the Exchange e-mail server and SharePoint, Microsoft's enterprise content management system.