Someone recently asked for my reflections on ISA and here’s what I came up with:
Is ISA valuable? It is an enterprise class solution that does stateful packet inspection, can accelerate internet browsing through proxy caching, provides real-time monitoring and logging, with its firewall client desktop tool provides for sophisticated proxy bypass functionality, generates a very nice executive summary style daily report, is very simple and useful if you ever have the need to publish a website or application, and is great IMHO. The logging feature can satisfy regulatory or compliance concerns and is a safety net of documentation should intrusion and/or information theft ever be an issue. As a professional administrator it is worth learning. Also the SBS CEICW will set up a basic foundation of firewall rules for most of whatever needs you are going to want including RWW, OWA, FTP, VPN, …from the CEICW firewall list of optional functionality. For further inquiries on ISA, search www.isaserver.org where Thomas Shinder is the man. Jim Harrison also has a website with very valuable downloadable tools at http://isatools.org with a pretty authoritative (and concise) list of links to ISA/SBS resources.
Do you have to install ISA along with the other Technologies Disk offerings? No, each is an island to itself. If you are going to install ISA & SQL it is worthwhile to install SQL first so that you have an instance to use optionally for ISA’s database.
A negative to ISA is that in the next version of SBS we have been told it won’t be included on the same box as SBS. So using ISA today will provide you current value, protection, and usefulness but your experiences with it may not have a future legacy come the next rendition of SBS Premium.