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ISA Server or no ISA Server

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Registered: 14-04-2007

ISA Server or no ISA Server

Is Microsoft ISA Server, included with SBS 2003 Premium, a necessary install or am I better off without it.
I have heard that it's more of a hindrance than useful and it's absence allows the server to run quicker.
Any thoughts Smiley

Customer and Forum Moderator.

6 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Registered: 13-04-2007

Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

When I have used it its a pain in the Bottom. If you are behind a NAT firewall and unless you are running very high security confidential data forget it. Like everything else its one more thing to slow the pc and something else you have to try and work out.
Its like firewalls its often the case that you end up opening it up as you cant get something to work without doing it and its then not worth having.
notheruser
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

Agree entirely with samuria - ISA is a major pain! Early versions were fine, but as MS have tried to get smart, they've made it overly complex. They have certain "models" for how they expect your network to be configured, and if your design doesn't fall neatly into one of those, tough $%*@~ - you're in bother! In work we use it as a proxy, to control outbound access to the internet, and as a cache. You would think that should be fairly simple, but MS have managed to screw up this product to the degree that you can't have the proxy/cache without also having the firewall features. You would think that should be fairly easy to resolve - just include a rule which says allow any network to get to any network. No such luck! We have had network guys spend days on this, with Wireshark captures etc. trying to find out the "logic" behind how ISA interprets its rules, but to no avail!
If anyone wants to suggest an alternative proxy server which is Active Directory integrated, I would gladly scrub ISA - I, and everyone else in my work, hates it with a vengeance!
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Posts: 26,919
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Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

I take those comments as 'NO' votes then Grin.
I've used the version supplied with 2000 SBS for some time now and it's been 'manageable'.
Now we are moving to 2003 SBS, ISA 2004 is proving to be the proverbial pain blocking legitimate traffic on it's own trusted network. It will most likely be left out of the equation at re-install.
Thanks guys.
Any more comments from other knowledgeable people will be most welcome Smiley
Thought for the day:
ISA stands for Internet Security and Acceleration  Roll eyes

Customer and Forum Moderator.

jrgrahamcov
Grafter
Posts: 160
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

Hi,
What are you trying to do ?
I work with ISA at the moment. The main problem with using ISA is you need a good grounding and experience in most area's to do with networking and the internet. We use it as a load balancing proxy solution behind appliance external facing firewalls. If you are a small / medium company you may be better off working out what services you need via the internet (VPN, Email, Web traffic etc) and then finding a more manageable way of doing it. The main problem people have with ISA appart from its config is they often turn it into swiss cheese by opening too many holes in it to make things work.
Smiley
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Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

Basically we have a server with SBS 2003 Premium yet to be configured and put in service.
The company I have asked to quote for configuring it and transferring accounts and data from our 2000SBS server have said ISA is not necessary and gets in the way. A hardware firewall is a better option.
The internet options we use are email, web browsing and the occasional VPN inbound. We also propose to have remote clients accessing email via OWA and running a SQL client accessing the SQL database on the server.
Straightforward stuff really Undecided

Customer and Forum Moderator.

jrgrahamcov
Grafter
Posts: 160
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: ISA Server or no ISA Server

That sounds like a good idea. The simpler you can keep things in IT the better. I have recently spent some time simplifying systems that had been set up in a much more complex way than was necessary.
Wink