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The Windows 8 operating system has incorporated a feature called DirectAccess. They added this element to allow better IT manageability of a remote workforce. Windows OS VPNs have been used for years to secure communications between remote workers and office locations. But DirectAccess has some advantages. Whether it provides enough advantages over Windows OS VPNs for businesses to switch over remains to be seen.
DirectAccess was added to the new Windows OS to meet a growing need. It is part of the promised updates for Windows 8. Many businesses are exploring the option of or expanding their existing remote workforce. The biggest challenge for these businesses is properly managing access to secure office networks. IT departments have been tasked with running the technologies required to provide remote workers with secure access. For some years, Windows OS VPNs have been the primary technologies employed. Windows OS VPN implementation already has its own difficulties. On top of this, IT professionals have to ensure that connections remain secure. This is where it all goes wrong, because they cannot maintain complete control of the secure connections and data.
Remote workers often use personal devices to access secure office networks. This is regardless of whether or not they have been assigned laptops or other devices for work purposes. The use of personal devices means that these workers are also using these device for other activities. And although they have a Windows OS VPN for work, they do not use it for personal web browsing and VoIP calls, et cetera. Some companies have tried issuing personal Windows OS VPNs. These can be used for secure access to any Internet enabled hardware or software. So workers could use these Windows OS VPN to secure their activities that are outside of work. But the problem remains that sometimes they fail to launch the Windows OS VPN before they go online.
One advantage of DirectAccess over Windows OS VPNs is that DirectAccess launches automatically. This means that the remote workers would always be on a secure connection. IT teams can also easily manage the devices used no matter from where they connect. Workers can be at public WiFi hotspots or at home, and IT can manage the connection without reconfiguring anything. They can easily also send remote devices all the needed updates for security and policies for use.
And the DirectAccess connection would limit office database access to only Windows 8 devices. This gives back an important level of control to IT teams. Remote workers can no longer use any device they want. This makes managing connections easier since there are only so ay devices that can be used by the workforce. It also limits the possibility for device infections that get passed on to the office network.
Windows OS VPN Features
The biggest advantage that Windows OS VPNs have over DirectAccess is flexibility. They work on any Windows OS version. And most providers can be easily configured to work on other operating systems as well. Companies and their IT staff would theoretically rather limit the devices that their workers use and give up the Windows OS VPN flexibility. But this would entail replacing all existing device operating systems with Windows 8, which could entail replacing the devices themselves. This would pose a challenge to remote workers who are not issued company hardware to use for work.
DirectAccess is a good idea for when equipment naturally gets upgraded over time. But Windows OS VPNs are still the practical option. The real problem is disciplining the workforce to comply with regulations for accessing company resources. Forcing compliance with limited connectivity is one solution. But replacing everything that runs fine on Windows OS VPNs to Windows 8 to implement DirectAccess is logistically unsound. It remains to be seen if the DirectAccess option will become popular among businesses that run older machines.