Just last week, email hosting provider Microsoft (News - Alert) revealed it will discontinue five Forefront products: Protection for Exchange Server (FPE) and SharePoint (FPSP), Security for Office Communications Server (FSOCS), Threat Management Gateway (News - Alert) (TMG) and Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Services (TMG WPS). The products will no longer be available for purchase after December 1, 2012 but the technology giant will continue to support its customers through 2015, and in some cases even 2020 depending on their subscriptions.
Microsoft is also planning to rename its Forefront Online Protection product for its email hosting solution Exchange to Exchange Online Protection. Customers using the Exchange Server for their email hosting needs will also be provided with additional built in anti malware protection.
The company’s decision was anticipated by Gartner (News - Alert), a technology research and advisory firm, which had stated in a report that was published in May of this year that Microsoft had no plans to continue the development of the Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 (TMG 2010) and was instead planning to replace it with online services.
TMG 2010 is a secure Web gateway that provides protection against Internet threats; the product inspects Internet traffic at several levels (network, content and application layer) giving companies and their end users peace of mind when browsing the Web.
If Gartner believed that the technology giant was planning the move to online-based security, Rick Holland, senior analyst of Forrester (News - Alert) Research, a technology and market research company, had the same belief. He reported that the TMG 2010 product was not the main choice for larger enterprises when it came to selecting secure Web gateways and that many organizations adopted the solution simply because of Microsoft licensing. He too feels Microsoft’s unveiling is a sign to its shift to a cloud-based security infrastructure. This is because of the move towards business mobility and the increasing number of employees working remotely. Access to protection in the cloud would be more direct than access to a Forefront threat management gateway back at the office.
When the email hosting provider first made this game-changing announcement, other companies jumped in to fill the void and attract stranded customers. F5 Networks (News - Alert), a close business partner of Microsoft, is one those firms who already provides its own security solution. F5’s Big-IP platform is an application delivery controller product that works with many Microsoft applications including Exchange, SharePoint and Lync.
Microsoft Forefront customers will have to decide what the better solution is for them whether it is following Microsoft on its path towards cloud-based solutions or finding an alternative that better suits their individual business needs.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein