Cougar is Coming

I’ve applied to be a beta tester on the next version of SBS, codenamed "Cougar".  There’s been a buzz about Cougar, and Eric Ligman writes about What is going to be in "Cougar?"

Read the whole post, but two things to know about Cougar:

  • Cougar will be 64-bit.  This is required by Exchange 2007 which is 64-bit only
  • ISA Server will not be included in SBS.  Eric doesn’t mention this, but this has made the rounds in the SBS blogosphere for the past year.

64-bit machines aren’t going to be a problem.  I am already running 64-bit on both my home machines.  By the time we plan a new server at SATV in a year, we will be buying 64-bit, and most likely a quad-core machine at that, assuming there are no eight-core CPU’s in the meantime!

What is going to hurt some is losing ISA.  ISA Server is the best security software I’ve ever used.  I can understand what MS is doing though–they need to balance capabilities versus ease of integration.  ISA is a very hard piece of software to  coexist with (and on) the SBS domain controller.

The logging features of ISA are beyond compare and I will miss them.  But I’ve only once ever been asked to mine the logs for questionable web access, and I’ve almost never had to do log analysis.  I, and a lot of other small business IT professionals, just don’t have the time to see who is banging on port 11345 for two hours on a Sunday morning.  (I used to have ISA page me for port scans.  That didn’t last long.)  ISA has wonderful reports, but I never read them!

I expect to be able to live without ISA one way or another, by using the firewall features of our broadband router, or by using m0n0wall, or something of that sort.  But it is something SBS shops need to be aware of as you look towards Cougar.

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