DirectAccess. “It’s magic.” And now you can try it in a test lab.

R2! Props to Keith Combs for seeing this before me…

There’s a new Step-by-Step Guide for building and configuring a test lab environment to try out DirectAccess.

“What is DirectAccess?”

In a very small nutshell, it is a way to grant access (either full or selective) to your corporate resources from outside.  It’s a new capability that requires Windows Server 2008 R2 on the DirectAccess-supporting servers (though not on the servers that host the actual files or applications being accessed), and Windows 7 on the desktop client.

“You mean like VPN”?

Well.. yes and no.  Like VPN, it’s a tunnel in from the outside.  But unlike VPN, it’s always there and available.  For me sitting at home or at an airport or some beloved coffee shop, I can work on my expense report as readily as surf the Internet.  If I get an e-mail that contains a link to some sharepoint-homed document, I just open it up.  It’s magic.

“Is it tough to set up?”

In a word: YES.  It’s not a quick wizard set it all up.  (HINT: How comfortable are you with IPv6?)  It’s not just “a feature”, but rather “a solution”.  Think of all the options and flexibility there are with something like Network Access Protection (NAP).  There are several options and decisions to be made about how you roll this out.  So.. a good step-by-step guide specifically geared toward trying this technology out is extremely useful.

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