Over the past few months, Microsoft has quietly shown the software to a select group of users, but sources familiar with the company's plans said that it will release a beta version of the code to users during the RSA Conference next Tuesday. Microsoft will allow attendees to "see new technologies," including Stirling and the company's next-generation Windows Server 2008 software, according to the conference agenda.
Microsoft's Forefront product line has been playing with more established security products over the past few years, but with Stirling the company will finally be able to offer administrators a single product that manages all of its security offerings.
"Stirling will touch many different areas of network protection, server protection and client protection," said Ronald Beekelaar, an independent IT consultant based in Amsterdam, who is familiar with the Forefront products. "So Microsoft has to coordinate that between different products. But that also means that beta testers should really look at Stirling at all those levels, and not just test the client protection, or only the firewall protection," he wrote in an e-mail interview.
Stirling's management and reporting capabilities, and its tight integration with Microsoft's other products will give enterprise users new tools for tracking malware and staying on top of the "health" of the computers on their network, he added.
After running the product through beta testing phase, Microsoft expects to ship Stirling by the end of June 2009.
Although Microsoft's security announcements are always closely watched, it will not be the only company making news at the conference. IBM plans to introduce new security projects, software, and services products, and storage vendor EMC is expected to shed some more light on how it plans to tie together recent acquisitions such as Tablus, Network Intelligence, and Documentum.
"EMC is determined to show its value in the information lifecycle," said Nick Selby, research director with the 451 Group, an industry analyst firm.
Symantec CEO John Thompson will keynote at the show Tuesday, the same day his company is set to release its semi-annual Internet Security Threat Report.
Hard drive vendor Seagate Technology will provide an update on the data center hard-drive encryption products it is developing in conjunction with IBM and storage component maker LSI. The companies have been working since last year to bring Seagate's Full Disk Encryption (FDE) technology to enterprise-class storage systems.