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What is DirectAccess?

DirectAccess, introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2, is a remote access feature allowing connectivity to corporate network resources without the requirement of Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections. DirectAccess at the time only supported domain-joined Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate edition clients. Windows Routing and Remote Access Server (RRAS) will continue to provide traditional VPN connectivity for legacy clients, non-domain joined clients, third party VPN clients and site-to-site server connections. RRAS in Windows Server 2008 R2 must be deployed and managed separately from DirectAccess as it cannot coexist on the same edge server.

In 2012, DirectAccess offered with Windows Server 2012 R2 combines the feature and the RRAS role service into a new unified server role. This new Remote Access role allows for centralized configuration, administration, and monitoring of both VPN-based remote access services and DirectAccess.  Windows Server 2012 R2 DirectAccess also provides multiple updates and improvements to address deployment blockers and provide simplified management.

These features include:

DirectAccess and RRAS coexistence
Simplified DirectAccess Deployment
Removal of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) as prerequisite
Built in NAT64 and DNS64 support for IPv4 only resources
Support for DirectAccess behind a NAT device
Load Balancing Support
Multi Domain Support
NAP Integration
Manage-Out to clients support
User Monitoring / Server Status / Diagnostics
IP-HTTPS performance improvements
Server Core Support
Multisite Support
Windows 8.1 Enterprise and Windows Server 2012 R2, DirectAccess deployment is also now simplified with a working configuration deployed in a few clicks. However, options are also available to allow for DirectAccess accessibility through a multitude of deployment options should the standard configuration not meet your organizations requirements.  These deployment options include:

Single Site Remote Access
Remote Access in a Cluster
Multiple Remote Access Servers in a Multisite Deployment
Remote Access with OTP Authentication
Remote Access in a Multi-Forest Environment
Remote Access with Network Access Protection
Remote Access in the Cloud

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