Finally, the storage options for VDI-based
deployments have improved as well. For example, you can store and operate VHDs over Server Message Block file
shares, storage area networks (SANs) or local storage directly attached to a server. Collections of pooled virtual
desktops can be configured with tiers -- in other words, infrequently used machines can be stored on cheap storage
whereas more frequently used VHDs and sessions can be put on faster but more expensive storage. And VDI works well
with clustering and failover options present in Windows Server 2012 to better ensure high availability.
The big benefit for management gurus everywhere is the further enhancements to DirectAccess. I've written
about DirectAccess before for Computerworld, and I'm a big fan of the technology. It allows VPN-like secure
tunneling from any endpoint back to the corporate mother ship without the overhead and performance hit of a true
There is also no management agent on the client; when the technology is configured correctly, it just works.
Users have seamless connectivity to file shares, on-premises equipment and other resources just as if they were on
the corporate campus.
In just seven clicks, an administrator can run through this wizard and have a working DirectAccess setup
In addition, group policy objects get applied and administrators can manage machines wherever they are, not just
when employees come to headquarters or when the machines connect up to the VPN.
The downside of using DirectAccess up to now has been the heavy requirements in getting the technology set up --
it used to be dependent on IPv6 or somewhat kludgy IPv6-to-IPv4 conversion engines -- and configuring the server
endpoints that reside in your DMZ or on the edge of your network. It also didn't support being virtualized.
These requirements have all been removed in Windows Server 2012. DirectAccess works transparently with IPv4, so
no strange Teredo or conversion tunnels are
required. In addition, you can virtualize the edge machine running the DirectAccess "interceptor" without any
problems. I've only tried it on Hyper-V, but I assume VMware will be supported once the product has officially been