Needs and challenges

Published: January 11, 2010

Updated: October 21, 2010

Applies To: Unified Access Gateway

Although more and more users have become mobile to stay productive while they are away from the office, and the number of mobile users is expected to grow, the way users access network resources hasn’t changed. Home broadband, wireless broadband, and Wi-Fi, allow users to connect to the Internet while they are away from the office, but corporate firewalls prevent them from connecting to resources on the intranet. Only users physically connected to the intranet can access intranet resources. This becomes a management problem because IT administrators can update computers only when they connect to the intranet. As a result, many organizations provide virtual private networks (VPNs) to enable remote users to connect to intranet resources.

However, using a VPN can be problematic for the following reasons:

  • Connecting to a VPN can require several steps, and the user must wait for authentication. For organizations that check the health of a computer before allowing the connection, establishing a VPN connection can take several minutes.

  • If users lose their Internet connection, they must re-establish the VPN connection.

  • VPN connections can be problematic in some environments that filter out VPN traffic.

  • Internet performance is slowed if both intranet and Internet traffic goes through the VPN connection.

Due to these inconveniences, many users avoid connecting to a VPN. Instead, they use application gateways, such as Microsoft® Outlook® Web Access (OWA), to connect to intranet resources. With OWA, users can retrieve internal e-mail without establishing a VPN connection. However, users still need to connect to a VPN to open documents that are located on intranet file shares, such as those that are linked to in an e-mail message.

With Forefront UAG DirectAccess, remote users can access corporate file shares, Web sites, and applications, without the need to connect to a VPN.