Article

Details of ISA Server 2004 emerge

Margie Semilof

With the formal introduction of its Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004, Microsoft has added some more descriptive detail, including the price and the names of a handful of software and hardware partners.

ISA Server 2004, which is still in beta and won't be generally available until later this year, will sell for $1,499 per processor. Microsoft has lined up several partners that will deliver appliances based on the firewall software, including Hewlett-Packard Co., Celestix Networks Inc. and Network Engines Inc. Venation Ltd., a U.K.-based company, said it will overlay its content

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caching software onto ISA Server 2004.

With this release, Microsoft is adding application layer protection, VPN support and some cache functionality. With these additions, the software is a good follow-up to the previous version of ISA and "brings it into the realm as a serious contender to a Checkpoint firewall," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirlkand, Wash., consulting firm.

In an enterprise, Microsoft's

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firewall is likely to be used mainly as an application firewall in conjunction with a hardware-based firewall, though small business customers may consider using it as their sole firewall.

"I've worked with large enterprises where we've used Cisco [Systems] on the front end with ISA behind it," said Chris Darrow, a consultant at TCP-IP Inc., a Sacramento, Calif .-based consulting firm. "It's a good addition to a Checkpoint or Cisco firewall, but I still would not use it alone."

Indeed, Jonathan Perera, senior director of product management for Microsoft's security business and technology unit, said the firewall would not necessarily take the place of a Checkpoint firewall, but it will certainly drill down deeper to inspect packets in Exchange Server and Outlook Web Access.

ISA Server 2004 ships with Microsoft's Small Business Server, but Darrow said ISA really needs to be "in its own box," otherwise it might shut down some Web services or Internet access. For that reason it's "not really a great combination with SBS [Small Business Server]," he said.


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