LABS GALLERY: Windows 7 DirectAccess Connects Remote Clients sans VPN

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LABS GALLERY: Windows 7 DirectAccess Connects Remote Clients sans VPN

by Andrew Garcia

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Installing DirectAccess

From the Server Manager, administrators can easily install the DirectAccess feature (it's not a Role), which also installs the Group Policy Management snap-in.

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No Tools

DirectAccess installation must be done from the server itself, directly or via Remote Access. There is no admin pack or tool to install on a Windows desktop.

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DirectAccess Setup

The DirectAccess setup wizard walks the administrator through the process, defining eligible client machines, the DirectAccess server, target intranet servers and core intranet directory management elements.

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DA Clients

Base authentication is per machine, not per user. PCs are assigned to a security group eligible to use DirectAccess. This step sets up a filter, including machines permitted to receive DirectAccess configuration via Group Policy.

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Adapters

The administrator defines which NIC goes to which network.

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Certificates

Using my domain's certificate services, I created the certificate that is passed here to the client machines.

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Location Server

Administrators must define a location server on the intranet. Clients check this address to determine whether they are local or remote.

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NRPT

DirectAccess leverages a new feature in Windows 7 called the Name Resolution Policy Table. This table maps a DNS namespace to a DNS server, allowing remote clients to know when to phone home and when to go to the regular Internet.

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Apply Policy

After creating the policy, I could save it and apply it immediately. My first attempt failed due to a DNS suffix problem on the DirectAccess server. I just wish the wizard could have told me that.

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Group Policy Objects

Applying the DirectAccess policy creates Group Policy Objects that are applied to the Default Domain Policy, filtered to allowed client machines. Here is a sample policy. As it is an ADMX template, don't ever expect to find DirectAccess ported to Windows XP (although it may be to Vista one day).

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DNS

DirectAccess relies on IPv6 for connectivity, so internal application servers and the DNS server must support IPv6.

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