It's my turn to throw my hat into the Forefront Team Blog ring!
Okay...I'm not 100% what that means.
My name is Ian Hameroff, and I'm one of the many bloggers you'll see up here on the Forefront blog-o-rama. If that's not a stellar enough intro, check out this video we filmed last week at Microsoft's illustrious studio - Conference Room 27/1545 (please note: this "studio" is not affiliated with the really cool Microsoft Studios in building 127):
So, if you've stuck with me this far, thanks!
Let's get to the reason for my post: the upcoming birthday for Windows Networking.
Fifteen years ago this Saturday, on October 27, 1992, Microsoft shipped Windows for Workgroups (aka WfW for those who had dial-up Internet access back in the day that charged by the character) v3.1.
One of the major selling points of this release/update was the inclusion of "built in networking functionality" that would help make sharing files, sending electronic mails and "surfing" those Gopher sites -- that is, if you installed that pesky TCP/IP update -- that much easier.
Granted, these networking features were basically NetBIOS, but that didn't stop us from saying proudly on the product box: "Windows for Workgroups: Operating System with Integrated Networking."
While WfW Networking was still a leap forward, you'd have to wait until Windows 95 to get the complete "Internets" ready experience out of the box with Windows.
So, what the devil does have to do with Forefront or security Hameroff?
Clearly, integrated networking (or at the very least the more seamless integration of networking as with WfW 3.1) changed the rules of the game for Windows users. While it opened up new opportunities for collaboration and communication, it also introduced the newly connected world to the potential risks of malicious abuse.
Over these 15 years, we've (the industry, not just Microsoft) have learned a ton about how to balance greater access with increased security. This sometimes paradoxical acrobatic act of striking this balance is something I've spoken on for a bunch of years (both at events -- like TechEd -- and on my blog: http://blogs.technet.com/ianhamer), and I'm excited about the fact we're getting closer to another Windows networking birthday which will help us inch closer to the realization of the promise of policy-driven network access.
For me, that's all about the upcoming release of Windows Server 2008 and the Network Access Protection features found within.
NAP enables IT administrators to set policies that determine the minimum requirements for gaining network access to the corporate network - like making sure that Forefront Client Security is both enabled and up to date.
You can check out a killer demo of this in action (okay, get ready to watch this shameless plug, but bear with me) with FCS from my demo in BillG's recent keynote address at WinHEC 2007.
An absolutely shameless plug.
As you'll see in the demo, or if you've already played with the technology in Beta or RC, the ability to set, validate and enforce access policies based on the health of the connecting client helps further reduce the risk of malicious abuse of networked resources. I like to think of NAP as a catalyst for getting even more value of out the investments you've made in your security controls, because it helps make sure it is used properly by your end-users, with the reward of network access for those "up to snuff." This is a platform that will work closely with the Forefront product line -- even more so with the release of "Stirling" -- but also with the wide range of eco-system partners that have signed up to plug into our NAP platform.
So, if you're thinking about one of the Forefront products for your environment, or already have some of this stuff in place, I encourage you to check out the added value NAP can bring to these investments.
Also, don't forget to send Windows networking your birthday wishes this Saturday!