Microsoft has shipped the second release candidate of Forefront Identity Manger 2010, which is a major piece of its strategy to integrate its security and identity technology.

Forefront Identity Manager 2010, formerly called Identity Lifecycle Manager 2 (ILM), is Microsoft's platform for identity synchronisation, certificate and password management, and user provisioning. It has four areas of focus: policy, credential, user and group management.

The product has been in churn mode as Microsoft has worked out the kinks. In March, the company pushed the delivery date out to 2010. The official ship date is now set for some time between January and March 2010.

With RC1, Microsoft has added new features such as the ability to show invalid security group members and to disable batch approve/reject of membership requests. It also added a management pack for System Center Operations Manager and configuration migration tools, updated the UI based on feedback from RC0 (released in May), and enhanced performance and scalability.

Earlier this week, Microsoft laid out the importance of the platform in context of its overarching strategy to merge security and identity technology. That effort includes the Forefront suite of products that stretch across clients, servers and the network edge.

Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's server and tools business, said earlier this week that Identity Manager “ties together the identity management across an organisation and enables the foundation for security configurations and security policies that run on top."

Identity Manager offers user self-service features, such as password reset. It also includes a new delegation model, a business process framework, “code-less” provisioning, and workflows for managing accounts, passwords, groups and distribution lists. The software also integrates its group management, workflow, and other features with SharePoint and Outlook, and it provides a set of services that users and partners can tap to extend the server’s functionality.