In Windows Server 2012, DirectAccess has evolved quite a bit. The most complex part now seems to be finding out how to install it on the server. Here's the answer: It's been added to the Remote Access role. From Server Manager, you click Add Roles and Features to launch the wizard and select the Remote Access role to install. As you go through the wizard, it will tell you can add either or both of two components: Routing, and DirectAccess and VPN (RAS). It's now a much simpler setup process.
DirectAccess also now supports deployments behind edge firewalls and border router/NAT devices. It supports a single network adapter (previous versions required at least two with public IP addresses assigned), so you can put the system in your DMZ. Alternatively, you can place it in your internal network if you don't use an DMZ or a perimeter network. Multiple entry points are supported for larger organizations that require client roaming. And Windows 8 systems can automatically select the closest entry point, aka geo-selection.
Once you get DirectAccess up and running, your Windows 8 systems will automatically work with it, but your Windows 7 systems will need the DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0 installed. This tool improves the connection experience and supports one-time-password authentication.
Don't let the old flaws keep you away
Both Server Core and DirectAccess made theoretical sense in Windows Server 2008 R2, but their limitations and complexities blocked or complicatd their adoption. They continue to make sense today. With the technical improvements and greater flexibility that Windows Server 2012 brought them, you now have no excuse to ignore them.
This story, "2 Windows Server features worth a second look," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.