Windows Server 2012 In Your Small Business – Part 3

This is probably the coolest feature I’ve ever seen, in any piece of software.

If you don’t feel the same by time you’re done reading this, then perhaps you’ll agree it’s easily the coolest and easiest way to provide users with remote access to network resources.

DirectAccess was introduced in the last generation of Windows Server and Windows desktop products. So while it isn’t new, it’s been enhanced to make deploying it, and using it, easier. The idea is that anytime a user has an Internet connection, their device will automatically establish a connection to the corporate network as well, giving them remote access to shared folders,
internal websites, applications, etc.

No VPN to manually configure and initiate. Thank goodness for that.

From what I’ve seen, deploying DirectAccess in Windows Server 2008 R2 was a pain. Lots of steps, in and out of the command line on the server and the user’s device(s), and on and on. In Windows Server 2012, it can be done in about 6 steps. Configuring and managing remote access can take place immediately after. And it’s dead easy.

With Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, your server no longer requires multiple network adapters, servers and clients do not have to belong to the same domain, and new policies/domain settings can now be deployed over DirectAccess. This all means that remote workers never have to physically get their device onto the corporate network anymore, making everything easier for all parties.

I’ve worked for several companies where remote access was provided. And each mechanism used either required a great deal of third-party components to make it work, or opened up huge security holes. Not to mention that a lot of hotels, cafes, and other public places don’t allow for VPN connections to be initiated in the first place, so you wouldn’t be able to connect anyway. DirectAccess is much easier to use, and it’s automatic. And if it doesn’t work, the tools provided to users to help the IT troubleshoot what’s happening are superior to anything I’ve seen from any third-party VPN solutions.

The one caveat is that DirectAccess requires IPv6. If your ISP has not deployed IPv6 yet, then you can opt to deploy an appliance that can perform IPv6-to-IPv4 translation.

That concludes the information I wanted to share about DirectAccess. Keep checking back for more ways Windows Server 2012 can benefit your small business.