Hi, my name is Hal Berenson. I'm a Distinguished Engineer in Microsoft's Identity and Security Division where I lead our central architecture team (a.k.a, "ICA Architecture"). I'm also the General Manager of the Anywhere Access Group, which creates and delivers our Forefront Unified Access Gateway and Forefront Threat Management Gateway products. Those of you who know me from the Microsoft SQL Server world won't find the idea of my being both an architect and general manager all that unusual, for everyone who doesn't know me let's just say that I still can't decide what I want to be when I grow up.
I earned my first paycheck for writing software in 1972 and have been in the industry full-time since 1975, but I was actually born into it. My father was an IBM Systems Engineer who annoyed my mother by insisting my birth announcement go out on 80-column punch cards. He went on to become VP of IT for a Fortune 50 retailer, leading me to be exposed to computing in the Enterprise at a very early age. For my first act I wrote a program that asked the operator questions on the console of a S/360. Major panic ensued as they had never seen anything on that console other than "mount tape foo on drive 2" before. My first hack. A couple of years later I would go on to show the resident IBM systems programmer just how easy it was to break the security of the then-new TSO environment the shop had installed. At about the same time a couple of friends and I were breaking into the DEC TOPS-10 timesharing service used by our high school, and then were hired to harden it against the constant stream of attacks from clever high school students across the county. So I began my career in security, and in today's vernacular I started out as a Black Hat and moved to being a White Hat. While my career would continue to touch on security from time to time (including serving in the CISO/security engineering/security operations role for a startup) I really set my sights on displacing IBM (or, as my father put it, biting the hand that fed me) as the dominant provider of computers in the Enterprise. That lead me to Digital Equipment Corporation and a career focused on Database and Transaction Processing software, a focus I continued when I joined Microsoft in 1994. At DEC I lead projects such as DBMS-20 and DEC Rdb. Here at Microsoft I was a developer on Microsoft SQL Server 6.5, Product Unit Manager for SQL Server 7.0's Relational Engine, and General Manager for SQL Server 2000. I also lead Microsoft's corporate technical strategy ("Quests") and an enterprise strategy program for a few years. Along the way I've been involved in storage, office automation systems, systems management, performance analysis and other areas of computing critical to the Enterprise. Last summer I decided to return to the area where my career in computing began and joined the Identity and Security Division.
If one looks back on the SQL Server newsgroups and other forums of the late 90s and early 00s you'll find I was an active participant answering questions, explaining how SQL Server worked, and commenting on the database industry and products as a whole. If blogs had been common at the time I would have undoubtedly had an active one. Now I hope to be a very active blogger in the security and identity space. The Because It’s Everybody’s Business (BIEB) initiative's Forefront Experts blog is the perfect host since it lets me combine my passions for computing in the Enterprise with that of Identity and Security. And that is what Forefront is all about.