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Exploring ISA Server 2004 Tools and Concepts

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This chapter covers the high-level details of each portion of the ISA Management Console, with emphasis placed on introducing ISA administrators to the tools available to make their lives easier.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Exploring the ISA Server 2004 Management Console
  • Configuring Networks with ISA Console Network Wizards and Tools
  • Exploring Firewall Policy Settings
  • Navigating the Monitoring Node Options
  • Working with the Virtual Private Networks Node
  • Examining the Cache Node Settings
  • Configuring Add-ins
  • Exploring the ISA General Node
  • Summary
  • Best Practices

After ISA Server has been installed, the intimidating task of configuring it and customizing it to fit organizational needs begins. An ISA Server is a very customizable and powerful security solution, but the proper rules, parameters, and settings must be configured before it can perform any of its promised functions.

Fortunately, ISA Server 2004 makes management and configuration relatively straightforward to perform, particularly when it is compared with some of the other security solutions on the market. With this in mind, it is subsequently important to understand how to use the tools that ISA provides and to become familiar with its interface before becoming proficient in leveraging its functionality.

This chapter focuses on presenting and explaining the various ISA components and terminology that are central to its operation and functionality. Each of the components in the ISA Server Management Console is explained, and instructions on how to use them are presented. Because of the quantity of topics, they are covered at a high level in this chapter, but references to other chapters that go into more specifics are given when applicable.

Exploring the ISA Server 2004 Management Console

The centerpiece to ISA Server 2004 is the Management Console. The ISA Management Console contains the majority of the features and tools that are necessary for configuring ISA’s various functions. Firewall rules, network rules, caching configuration, VPN functionality, and many more functions are contained within the console itself, and an understanding of ISA is incomplete without a good familiarity with the Console.

Defining ISA Server Console Terminology and Architecture

The ISA Server 2004 Console, shown in Figure 3.1, is a vast improvement over the ISA 2000 Console, which was not very logically structured and made information and tools difficult to locate. The 2004 Console, on the other hand, logically groups common tasks together and structures the tools and information in a way that is intuitive and convenient.

Figure 3.01

FIGURE 3.1 Viewing the ISA Server 2004 Management Console.

The ISA Console can be launched by clicking Start, All Programs, Microsoft ISA Server, ISA Server Management. Because of the way the Console is structured, it is best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024x768 or greater.

Exploring ISA Console Panes

Each area within the ISA Server Console has a specific name by which it is referenced. The names of these areas—or panes, as they are called—make it easier to identify where specific information is, and provide a common language that can be used when troubleshooting ISA issues. This book refers to the particular panes by name throughout the chapters, so it is important to understand the terminology in advance. The following is a list of the panes included in the ISA Console and their respective functions:

  • Scope Pane  The pane on the left side of the console is known as the Scope pane. The Scope pane displays the Console Tree, also known as the Node Tree, which is a navigation component that helps to quickly change between the various nodes.
  • Central Details Pane  The Central Details pane is the large pane in the bottom center of the ISA Console. This pane displays information specific to the node itself, such as server log activity, firewall rules, network sets, and other server status items.
  • Task Pane  The Task pane is the section on the right side of the Console that displays common tasks and wizards that can be invoked. This pane also typically contains multiple tabs for the different options available in the particular node chosen. One tab that is present for each node is the Help tab, which displays useful help information about topics particular to the node selected.

Examining ISA Console Nodes

The Scope pane contains a list of nodes, or logical configuration units that group together tasks and views related to a specific portion of ISA functionality. Clicking on each node in the console tree displays the information that is particular to that node. For example, Cache-related information is stored in the Cache node, VPN information in the Virtual Private Networks node, and so on.

Switching between nodes involves just clicking on each individual node in the Scope pane. Each time a new node is selected, the information displayed in the Central Details pane and the Task pane changes to display information specific to that particular node.

The nodes available in ISA Server 2004 Standard Edition are the following:

  • Monitoring
  • Firewall Policy
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Configuration
  • Networks
  • Cache
  • Add-ins
  • General

Additional information about the contents of each of these nodes is provided in the next sections of this chapter.

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