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Microsoft Fuses Identity and Security

Microsoft has combined its Identity and Access Division with its Access and Security Division -- and not just because both groups had "Access" in their names.

Before we continue, is anybody else thinking what I'm thinking? You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate! OK, maybe not. Sorry, it's been a long conference already. And we like Reese's. (The theme there was famous combinations, in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, the new group, officially minted July 1 to coincide with the beginning of Microsoft's fiscal 2009, is the Identity & Security Business Group -- which sounds like some sort of New Age work therapy session, but we digress. What it is, though, is a group that makes a lot of sense, in that it combines marketing and engineering efforts for products that complement each other.

For instance, the new group combines teams working on such identity products as Windows Rights Management Server and Active Directory Federation Services with those working on offerings such as the Forefront Suite.

"It is very clear in talking to customers that the key business drivers are converging into a single set of product requirements," Douglas Leland, general manager of the Identity and Security Business Group, told RCPU at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston this week. "It's a very natural move to bring these two businesses together."

Indeed -- we get it. And for partners, there are new opportunities. The rapidly growing Security Software Advisor program now pays referral fees for former Identity and Access Products, including Rights Management Server and Identity Lifecycle Manager. In order to attract partners who are focused on selling infrastructure, the program will pay a 50 percent bonus on a partner's first referral from now until the end of September, said Mark Hassall, director of Windows Product Marketing.

Leland added that Forefront is coming along nicely, thank you very much; he said that 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using Forefront in one way or another. For his part, Hassall cited some pretty impressive SSA numbers: The number of partners in the program increased 500 percent year over year from 2007 to 2008 (from 4,000 to 23,000), and the number of partners having achieved the Security Solutions Competency grew from 700 in mid-2007 to 2,700 in 2008. That's year-over-year growth of 350 percent, if you're scoring along at home.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 09, 2008 at 11:54 AM