Behind an ISA 2006 array

Last week I noticed that HTTP/S connections to my primary ISP public address were randomly dropped for short times. Since this little trouble was affecting the user experience of the Phoibos services customers, I worked a couple of days to find a solution.
The cause of the problem revealed to reside in the Web Listener component of ISA Server 2004 Standard Edition: in effect, the configuration of my firewall (that I deployed to workaround my ISPs low reliability) with two external NIC targeted to different gateways and some other tricks, was something complex and obviously unsupported by MSFT… 😉

The best solution was to deploy an array of ISA Servers (only possible with the Enterprise edition) to have them working as a load-balanced gateways both to access the Internet and to publish my servers on the Internet.  Furthermore the bi-directional affinity functionality granted by the new NLB services on Windows Server 2003 was also the best solution to publish the same service simultaneously on both public IP addresses, which was what I needed.

The migration from my old ISA 2004 single-server deployment to the new ISA 2006 array has been a little more complex than I thougth, mainly because the fact that all the ISA machines I wanted to deploy were hosted on two physical Virtual Server 2005 R2 hosts (if you have ever had to configure NLB clusters in a virtualized infrastructure you know what I mean…). After some troubles I decided to setup the NLB services out of the control of ISA services to be able to make NLB working in multicast mode (that’s the best option if you must have virtual guests by different virtual host “converged” in the same Virtual IP).

At the time I’m writing the new solution has been deployed by some hours, and all seems to work very well and, obviously, in a more available and secure way. I think there are a few adjustments I still have to make… hoping to have as few troubles as possible! 😀

VirtueMart laboratory

Since someone request me an order management solution for a small business, I was looking for a product or technology which could best target the needs with the smaller amount of investment.

The SharePoint solution seems to fit well: first of all, the simple Microsoft Office System interface can be used to easily upload and maintain the whole catalog and moreover, the WSS framework (included by defaul in the Windows Server 2003 license fee) assures the best security, stability and scalability a customer can be ever asked by his/her business.
The fist development lab of the solution founded on the WSS framework can be accessed to this URL

In order to test a product specifically designed to deploy and maintain an E-Commerce solution, I have also deployed a VirtueMart web site (, using the same “BSDBOX” which runs the Phoibos hosted WordPress weblogs… try both and say me what you think about! 🙂

Phoibos blog hosting

Today the testing WordPress-MU infrastructure has been decommisioned to bring online a new free blog hosting service, running under the Phoibos project infrastructure. The root of the weblogs collection is published both for corporate and Internet users under, where you can find the updated list of all active blogs.

Despite the successful WPMU deployment realized during the development phases, the standard WordPress 2.0.4 version was preferred as the core engine of this new service, because of its better user-friendly blog management and isolation.

At the time I’m writing, if you wish to have a free blog on this infrastructure you have to send an e-mail request to I hope to succesfully build a more simple provisioning system as soon as possible.

WordPress µ

This is the first message posted to my personal weblog, only for testing purposes. This new web space has been activated yesterday to try the multi user version of WordPress, and (beside of some setup troubles) it seems to be quite simple to manage. Some complaints about theme management: not all WP skins worked well also in WPMU. The hosted edition seems to run a bit more slowly than the standard WP, but the overall impression is good.