In today’s day and age, being able to provide employees with the ability to access files, applications, and internal websites from anywhere is vital. This is true whether you have employees who telecommute, who are on business trips, or who simply need to keep up with business while away from the office. Microsoft Direct Access provides this in a very simple way.
What It Does
To put it simply, Microsoft Direct Access gives remote users access to a variety of internal files, applications, and websites – all without the need to connect to a VPN. Essentially, the goal is to allow the remote user to connect directly to the intranet (company’s private network) without difficult tweaking of settings. When enabled, Microsoft Direct Access will automatically create two-way communication between the computer and the internal network each time a computer with the software enabled connects to the internet.
This means that the end user doesn’t have to think about logging on. The IT administrators can also manage the computers that are set up with Microsoft Direct Access remotely, even if the computers are not connected directly to the VPN.
Tasks Available from the Direct Access Management Console
The Direct Access management console gives IT and network professionals all of the tools they need to set up the proper infrastructure for their companies’ unique needs. With it, they can:
· Identify which servers housing applications should prompt users for authentication, which is optional;
· Identify the servers that are part of the infrastructure, including their location on the network and DNS;
· Configure DNS names that the internal servers must resolve;
· Configure the location of internal websites so that computers with Direct Access enabled can determine when they are on the network;
· Configure all of the individual network adapters on the server as well as things like certificates necessary for authentication; and
· Specify which computers can use Direct Access by setting up and then assigning unique security groups.
IT professionals and companies can also monitor Direct Access so they can see the entire infrastructure running on a particular server.
The Primary Benefits
Aside from providing a host of benefits to IT professionals and others who are responsible for setting up and maintaining a local, private network, Microsoft Direct Access also provides several unique benefits to each end user. Most similar remote access programs require each end user to start and terminate a VPN connection. This required the configuration of individual computers, and security often depended upon the end users’ ability to remember to terminate the connection at the end of the session. The best part is that it is based on Microsoft technology, but it can also be implemented on UNIX and Linux servers, too.
Whereas traditional VPNs come with several downfalls, including the need to deploy and maintain software and to attempt to configure finicky firewalls, Microsoft Direct Access alleviates some of those problems. It essentially takes the place of the VPN, plays nicely with firewalls, and automatically connects end users to a company’s intranet – all with no additional action necessary on the end user’s part.