Administration and maintenance documentation can be critical in maintaining a reliable ISA environment. These documents help an administrator of a particular server or set of servers organize and keep track of the different steps that need to be taken to ensure the health of the systems under his or her care. They also facilitate the training of new administrators and reduce the variables and risks involved in these transitions.
Note that ISA Server 2004 systems, as discussed previously, can serve several different functions on the network, such as edge firewalls, VPN servers, content caching servers, or reverse proxy servers. The necessary maintenance procedures may be slightly different for each one based on its function and importance in the network.
One key component to administration or maintenance documentation is a timeline detailing when certain procedures should be followed. As Chapter 17, "Maintaining ISA Server 2004," discusses, certain daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly procedures should be followed. These procedures should be documented, and the documentation should include clearly defined procedures and the frequency with which they should be performed.
Preparing Step-by-Step Procedure Documents
Administration and maintenance documentation contains a significant amount of procedural documentation. These documents can be very helpful for complex processes, or for processes that are not performed on a regular basis. Procedures range from technical processes that outline each step to administrative processes that help clarify roles and responsibilities.
Creating Documented Checklists
Administration and maintenance documentation can be extensive, and checklists can be quick reminders for essential processes and procedures. Develop comprehensive checklists that will help administrators perform their scheduled and unscheduled tasks. A timeline checklist highlighting the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks helps keep the ISA environment healthy. In addition, these checklists function as excellent auditing tools.
Outlining Procedural Documents
Procedural documents can be very helpful for complex processes. They can apply to technical processes and outline each step, or to administrative processes to help clarify roles and responsibilities.
Flowcharts from Microsoft Visio or a similar product are often sufficient for the more administrative processes, such as when testing a new ISA patch, approving the addition of a new server to the network, or scheduling network downtime.