ISA 2006 and SAN Certificates

Many customers and others have been confused by the well spread rumor that ISA 2006 do not support SAN certificates like the ones used by Exchange 2007.

The confusion is often caused by the fact that they do not understand how ISA is using SSL bridging in a typical Exchange Publishing scenario.

You have to remember that SSL bridging means that there are TWO (2) separate SSL sessions going on.

Session 1: From the Client (usually on the Internet) to ISA
In this case the certificate shown by ISA is validated by the client and must satisfy the demands the client has, if no warning is to appear. If the client supports SAN certificates then you can have a SAN certificate in the ISA listener.

Session 2: From ISA to the published server (usually on the Internal network)
In this case the certificate shown by the published server needs to satisfy ISA (the original client has nothing to do with this). This means it has to be issued by a trusted CA and have a Common Name that matches the hostname on the “To” tab in the publishing rule. If this is a SAN certificate, the first SAN also needs to be the same name as the name used on the “To” tab in the publishing rule.

To summarize, ISA 2006 do support SAN certificates, but when acting as a client it can only validate the common name and the first SAN entry. This will change in SP1 (released later this summer), with SP1 ISA will as a client be able to validate any SAN entry to match the “To” used in the publishing rule.

The “great” Jim Harrison, has described this in more detail in his blog at

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