Connecting the world…


Microsoft IAG

It has been a while since my last post, but time is short these days.

Today I had to troubleshoot a Microsoft IAG appliance. Microsoft IAG stands for Microsoft Intelligent Application Gateway. And indeed, intelligent it is. NOT. I have seen and configured multiple SSL VPN solutions like Juniper SA, Citrix Access Gateway, Citrix Secure Gateway and Cisco WebVPN. But to be honest, Microsoft IAG is the worst of all.

Microsoft IAG is installed on an appliance and is closely related to Microsoft ISA 2006, which is also installed on the server. Whenever you make some configuration changes to IAG, you have to active the new configuration inside IAG. After activating the configuration, I looked at the new ISA firewall policies and I really couldn’t believe my eyes. IAG configured ISA automatically, when activating the configuration.

A simple portal, where 2 websites and OWA are published and a network connect (SSL IP VPN), results in approximately 10 firewall policy rules in ISA. Okay, I could live with that, but I shivered while taking a closer look at the rules. It is not easy to discover what purpose a specific rule has, without looking to the different tabs while editing the rule.

Besides the crazy management of the appliance, me and a colleague had a lot of problems when testing the appliance. Currently the network connector is not supported on Windows Vista and you receive a lot of (useless) errors when using Internet Explorer 8. The logging functionality is also very basic and hard to find. I had problems with configuring and testing the network connector with the non-split tunneling and disable local area network access option, I couldn’t find any useful logging about the problem. For some reason only specific traffic is routed into the VPN tunnel. I ended up configuring split-tunneling and only route specific network segments into the SSL VPN tunnel.

My opinion till now, Microsoft IAG cannot be compared with other SSL VPN appliances I have seen. I guess Microsoft IAG could test positive when using the appliance in a solely Windows environment, where only Windows services, like OWA and SharePoint, are published to the internet.

Maybe the solution is a lot cheaper compared with the Juniper and Citrix solution, but for know I would rather buy a Cisco ASA 5505 or Cisco ASA 5510. I would definitely not configure the Microsoft IAG as a cooperate firewall terminating the Internet connection.