I’m very pleased to announce that today Forefront Unified Access Gateway Beta 2 is available for download from www.microsoft.com/uag . This beta release marks an important milestone in Microsoft’s remote access strategy as it brings together a host of access technologies into one environment.
Chances are you are reading this post from your laptop… and if you’re not currently outside of the corporate network, chances are you will be later today… You might be at home checking your email and getting some last minute work items done… That’s what UAG is all about! It’s about making sure that you, the user, remain as productive as you need to be regardless of what machine or network you are accessing from. Of course, it’s also about making sure that your company’s network and assets remain secure as you work remotely.
We know that when they say that “one size fits all”, it usually means that it fits some people well and the rest of us need to compromise. The same is true with remote access... Each technology is best suited for a different scenario/environment and the trick is to make sure you get the right one for the right task. A VPN client would be overkill for casual access from a kiosk or stealing a minute of time on your friend’s PC at home to check email… On the other hand, being limited to web-access only from your corporate laptop will leave you unfulfilled and wanting more. Unfulfilled, in this case also means: unproductive. That said, having multiple methods of remote access also translates to multiple $$$’s. Each environment needs to be well-managed, supported, scaled, etc. No less important is that each user needs to remember which environment is best to use in which scenario to easily achieve productivity. This means you’re doing less with more and that’s not good… and not just in this economy.
So here’s how UAG solves the problem…. It brings together a variety of remote access technologies such as DirectAccess, SSL VPN, Remote Desktop, web publishing, etc. under one roof and one user/admin experience. This way, administrators can easily roll out access to every type of user (employees, partners, etc) from virtually every location (corporate laptop, home PC, borrowed PC, kiosk, PDAs, etc). Users, in turn, get a simple and straightforward experience that adapts to the level of security of device they are using. If they come in from a corporate machine, they can get full connectivity through DirectAccess or for down-level PCs - SSL VPN. If they come from home PCs or borrowed PCs access policies will be tailored to their specific security. For instance, if they don’t practice safe-computing and don’t have an Anti-Malware software installed, running and up-to-date – UAG can decide to block access to uploads so no potentially harmful files will reach the network. If the user has an updated AV we may allow uploads but consider blocking downloads based on whether or not the Endpoint Session Cleanup (formerly: Attachment Wiper) can run to clean up any residue or temp files.
The policy options are limitless but they are also simple. Built in policies and administrative wizards help guide through setting up SharePoint, Exchange, DirectAccess, Terminal Services and much more….
The features I’m most excited about in UAG are our enhancements for DirectAccess. DirectAccess is really the next step of remote access and provides the best user experience possible. Wherever you may roam, you are simply connected, always-on, to corpnet. There is no need to open a VPN client, wait for connectivity, etc… You simply login and you are connected! What UAG brings to the table is a variety of capabilities to help simplify deployment and management, extend access to older servers and clients and grow the scale of the deployment. If you’re not yet looking at DirectAccess for your organization, you should…. And if you’re looking at DirectAccess you should look at UAG!
I could go on and on about the features and capabilities but why hear it from me?! Go and download the beta and see for yourself.
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Product Manager - UAG