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Windows 7 Direct Access Won’t Put Conventional VPN’s Out Of Business

Last week, I attended a presentation at the West Sound Technology Association about Windows 7. The presenter, Chris Avis, showed many of the new and interesting features present in Windows 7. He didn’t present slides, but simply demonstrated the various features using a freshly installed copy of the public Windows 7 beta code.

One of the features Chris demonstrated was something called Direct Access. It is essentially a “transparent” VPN that is activated automatically when the user tries to access a resource in the corporate network. There is no indication or icon that the user is connecting via some sort of encrypted tunnel, it “just happens,” assuming the action is allowed.

While I have to admit, this is pretty slick from an end user perspective, it will take large businesses years to get corporate desktops, laptops, and servers upgraded to the necessary levels in order to take advantage of this feature–Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. In the meantime, more conventional VPN solutions, such as provided by my employer Check Point Software, provide solutions today. The end user experience may not be as “transparent” as Microsoft is demonstrating, but it is not the hurdle Microsoft is making it out to be, either.

It’s also clear to note that this solution is really going after the client-to-site VPN. The conventional site-to-site VPNs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Do you really want to run separate VPN solutions for site-to-site and client-to-site? What does Microsoft’s solution do with respect to ensuring that endpoint remains secure and uncompromised?

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