When DirectAccess was first introduced as a feature of Windows Server 2008 R2, many considered the concept of always-on, secure remote access a natural evolution of traditional Virtual Private Networking (VPN) technologies. VPN had gone from being something that only IT administrators needed to provide remote support for their systems to an essential productivity tool for the modern, mobile workforce. Unfortunately, DirectAccess in Windows Server 2008 R2 was a bit ahead of its time. The idea was an excellent one, but in practice it was difficult to implement and carried steep infrastructure requirements, the most challenging of those being the requirement to deploy IPv6 on the internal network. Then along came Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010, which in addition to providing advanced SSL VPN capabilities, also included enhanced support for DirectAccess with IPv6 translation technologies (DNS64 and NAT64), eliminating the need to deploy IPv6 to take advantage of DirectAccess. This greatly accelerated the adoption of DirectAccess as a remote access solution for managed clients, while at the same time providing secure remote access to applications through the Forefront UAG application portal. Definitely a win-win.
With the introduction of Windows Server 2012, and continuing with Windows Server 2012 R2, the DirectAccess role has been further enhanced with simplified deployment, flexible network placement, and additional scalability and high-availability options. If you’re looking to deploy DirectAccess today, Windows Server 2012/R2 is the way to go. However, many customers still need to provide support for non-managed clients, which is something that Forefront UAG 2010 provided. Here at Iron Networks, we’ve developed the Unified Remote Access (URA) series of appliances to address this specific need. The Iron Networks URA is a single device that includes both Window Server 2012 for DirectAccess and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Forefront UAG 2010 for SSL VPN capabilities. The best of both worlds again! Now you can take advantage of the improvements in DirectAccess with Windows Server 2012 without having to give up the unique SSL VPN capabilities provided by Forefront UAG 2010, all in a single, 1 rack unit hardware appliance.
Interested in learning more about the Iron Networks URA appliance? Head on over to the URA product page here:
Also, Iron Networks recently announced availability of the DirectAccess PopUp Pilot. This is a new program that includes a packaged set of services and an entry-level appliance designed to help you quickly deploy a DirectAccess proof-of-concept environment in your organization. More information on the DirectAccess PopUp pilot can be found here: