REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 14, 2001 — With the release of its Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, an enterprise firewall and Web cache, as the security and performance arm of the Microsoft® .NET Enterprise Servers, Microsoft Corp. has stepped into the IT security industry. More than three years in development, ISA Server has already earned the confidence of customers who have adopted it based on its beta performance, of security experts who have tried unsuccessfully to compromise it, and of analysts who believe it has all the right features and certifications to compete in the firewall market. ISA Server has been carefully prepared and thoroughly tested and certified as a serious enterprise firewall and is being supported as a real contender in the security field.
“With the release of ISA Server, Microsoft is taking a large step toward enabling business on the Internet,”
said Paul Flessner, senior vice president of .NET Enterprise Servers at Microsoft.
“ISA Server is a key member of the .NET Enterprise Servers, which together offer customers the essential infrastructure they require to succeed in the new digital economy. We built ISA Server from the ground up as an enterprise firewall to demonstrate our commitment to secure computing and to our customers.”
Customers Tell the Story
Celestial Asia Securities Holdings Limited (CASH) provides high-quality personalized brokerage and financial services to both corporate and individual clients. Today, over 70,000 registered members rely on www.e-finance.com.hk for access to investment and personal financial information, up-to-date market data, research and pre-built applications designed to help them better understand and manage their finances.
With its business growing and its use of the Internet constantly increasing, CASH selected ISA Server as its primary firewall solution over Cisco PIX and Check Point FireWall-1.
“Microsoft ISA Server was the best fit for our business needs,”
said Michael Wong, head of information technology at CASH.
“We reviewed several firewall products, but ISA Server was the only one that was easy to manage, could painlessly scale and that integrated completely with our existing infrastructure.”
“Microsoft has a winner on their hands with this product,”
said Larry Leibrock, a security expert with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He is the associate dean and chief technology officer for the Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration at the University of Texas in Austin, and he has decided to add ISA Server to his department’s network.
Leibrock currently runs the Enterprise Edition of ISA Server on an array that supports more than 10,000 users. His reasons for switching to ISA Server are security, manageability and total cost of ownership.
“ISA Server is a robust firewall,”
“I really like the ability to define so many rules for Internet access and usage. Other firewalls on the market simply don’t have the manageability that ISA provides.”
ICSA Labs Certification and Hacker-Penetration Testing
ISA Server has been thoroughly tested and benchmarked by third-party testing facilities and security experts for firewall security and performance, and has passed each test and certification with flying colors. For instance, ISA Server passed the ICSA Labs firewall certification test, the de facto standard for firewall security in the industry.
The iterative testing process at ICSA Labs typically takes 90 to 120 days, with some firewalls taking up to three years to meet the demanding criteria. In contrast, Microsoft submitted ISA Server to ICSA Labs for testing in December, and it was certified on Jan. 29 – approximately one month later.
“That’s a short time for certification of a product and an impressive accomplishment for Microsoft,”
said George Japak, vice president of ICSA Labs. The ICSA Labs certification for ISA Server may be the icing on the cake for many customers considering an enterprisewide firewall, according to industry expert Joel Scambray, co-author of
a best-selling book on Internet security.
“I think ISA Server will be extremely popular with customers for several reasons,”
said Scambray, who also is managing partner of Foundstone Inc., an Internet security training and consulting firm based in Irvine, Calif.
“Certification is a gateway feature for many companies considering a firewall, and now ISA Server has entered that select club. That’s on top of the other benefits that the product brings to the market.”
Among the long list of firewall benefits that ISA Server offers is protection of the network from unauthorized access, defense from external attacks, the ability to inspect incoming and outgoing network traffic to ensure security, and the ability to alert administrators to suspicious activity. In addition, ISA Server integrates a high-speed Web cache, bringing high performance to the mix. ISA Server is available in two editions: an affordable Standard Edition ($1,499 per CPU) and a scalable Enterprise Edition ($5,999 per CPU).
“ISA Server comes out of the box with built-in array technology for firewall clustering, which makes it an attractive proposition for large enterprises,”
It’s a pretty bold step considering that other providers, like Check Point, require customers to buy third-party solutions to do load balancing and clustering.
“The product’s architecture, based on a packet-inspection engine, is well-proven in the marketplace, and the Windows interface will make it easy to manage. That’s a crucial benefit, because if IT managers can’t easily configure a firewall, they’re likely to get it wrong – with potentially disastrous results.”
ISA Server also has passed Foundstone’s penetration testing and overall security evaluation, which is based on both proprietary methodology and publicly available standards of security assessment.
“Based on our own evaluation of ISA Server’s security features, I’m confident that it will compete successfully with well-established products in the firewall space,”
“And that’s in a very conservative marketplace where customers are traditionally reluctant to change security products.”
Top-Tier Performance Proven by Third-Party Labs
ISA Server took top honors in the industry’s leading independent caching competition, the Cache-Off, conducted by The Measurement Factory Inc. in October 2000, winning in overall price and performance. ISA Server even beat established players such as Novell in caching overall requests per second per $1,000, outperforming every other entry by 16 to 600 percent, clearly establishing it as the best value for delivering fast Internet access. In addition, ISA Server fared very well in overall performance, scoring in the top five for pure performance and top four for bandwidth savings out of 31 entries. Details of the official Cache-Off results and independent analysis are available at http://www.measurement-factory.com/results/ .
Customers interested in trying ISA Server on their network can begin immediately with the evaluation copy available on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/isaserver/ and will have a seamless path to production when the product is generally available, targeted for February 2001.
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