Struggling with DirectAccess and WorkSite?

Microsoft DirectAccess is an amazing remote access technology that knocks the socks off any other VPN-like technology on the market. If you are still deploying VPN software and handling support calls about VPN connections, you are using the wrong solution for remote access. DirectAccess is automatic, its tunnels are established with a very high level of authentication without any user input, meaning that your corporate machines are always connected to the network for both user applications as well as management and security functions.

We at IVO Networks deploy DirectAccess every day, and have found it to be very popular in the legal industry. Have you ever found a new piece of technology that enabled your attorneys to save a billable unit of time every single time that they open the lid on their laptop? You just did. With the automatic connection of DirectAccess tunnels, there’s no more fumbling around with VPN connections or needing to log into something before you can get to work. Open your laptop, type your password to unlock the screen, and launch your applications. Just like when you are sitting at your desk.

What’s the catch? Generally there is no catch, DirectAccess verges upon magic. However, our legal industry specific customers have found a common struggle point, though it’s not anything to do directly with DirectAccess or their environment. Autonomy’s WorkSite — also known as DeskSite, FileSite, iManage, the list goes on and on – we’ll stick with WorkSite because it is the most common reference that I have heard for this suite of software. This software doesn’t like to play ball over DirectAccess connections, at least not at first. The specific reasons for this trouble are better saved for a more in-depth post, but ultimately there is some incompatibility with IPv6 at the WorkSite client level that hinders its ability to connect over a DirectAccess tunnel. Therefore what most customers find is that they deploy DirectAccess, fall in love with it, and then discover that their document management system doesn’t work. Ugh!

Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this problem. This scenario, not only for WorkSite but for many applications who are in this same boat (such as BigHand), is something that IVO Networks identified early on in the DirectAccess deployment years, and has built a solution that can resolve these issues. The solution is called App46, and is available today. App46 is a client-side technology, there is no need to change or install anything on your DirectAccess server or inside your datacenter in order to utilize App46 and get WorkSite connecting brilliantly over DirectAccess. This flexibility makes the testing of App46 incredibly easy, so if you find yourself interested in DirectAccess, or already having deployed it and are now bumping into problems – give us a shout and setup a trial today!

For information about a trial, please contact Eric Bettermann:

And for any technical questions, feel free to contact me directly:

Successfully Implementing Microsoft DirectAccess in the Legal Industry – Webinar

I invite you to attend our upcoming “Successfully Implementing Microsoft DirectAccess in the Legal Industry” webinar. The session, held on Wed. July 20, 2016 from 10am to 11am CDT, will review:

  • What is DirectAccess (DA)
  • DA Requirements
  • The DA Installation Process
  • Insight from a law firm currently using DA
  • Frequently Asked Questions and a Q&A session.

To reserve your spot, please register here:

If you have questions or would like to learn more about DA but can’t attend the webinar, let me know when you’re available and we can schedule a phone conversation.

Thanks much,
Peter Hamerlinck

Account Manager | IVO Networks
(phone) 320.282.8500

Specialized Hardware | Specialized Software | Consultations | Planning | Implementation | Support

We are the DirectAccess Experts |

APP46 enables Dell KACE K1000 to work over Microsoft DirectAccess

Dell KACE K1000 is currently an IPv4 ONLY solution and does not work over Microsoft DirectAccess remote VPN network connections.

APP46 is a client installed software utility application that enables Dell KACE K1000 to work over Microsoft DirectAccess.  APP46 works seamlessly on the workstation in the background to provide “NAT464″ network translation that enables IPv4 Dell KACE K1000 to communicate over Microsoft DirectAccess connections.

- Automatic client workstation transitions between local LAN/intranet and remote Windows DirectAccess connectivity
- No NRPT configurations required
- No GPO creation or configurations required
- No extra DNS (public) servers required
- No public DNS configurations required
- No local workstation script creation required

Please feel free to contact me directly with questions!

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Cloud and Datacenter Management

Windows 7 CANNOT do Multi-Site DirectAccess

I seem to be encountering a lot of confusion on this topic lately, so let’s clear the air. As of the Windows Server 2012 flavor of DirectAccess, we now have the ability to setup multiple DirectAccess sites, in different geographical locations (and therefore running in different subnets) – and tie them all together in a DirectAccess Multi-Site array.

This is different than a traditional DirectAccess server array, because doing either native NLB or hardware load balancing between multiple DA servers means those servers have to be within the same subnets, and for most companies that means those servers are all within the same physical site.

Multi-Site is a big deal – the ability to establish DirectAccess gateway servers around the globe and have the DA client computers self-choose which one they want to connect to can be extremely advantageous. The big catch that a lot of folks are not aware of? Windows 7 cannot do Multi-Site DirectAccess.

Cannot, never, not with special considerations, not even with a GSLB. This directly conflicts with a TechNet article that was published for a while which told us specifically that Windows 7 clients could do Multi-Site if there was a GSLB in play, but that has now been proven to be false.

If you’ve worked with DirectAccess a little bit, you are probably sitting on a question, thinking you’ve solved the answer to this puzzle. I can just swing my public DNS in the event that a site goes down, right? If my DirectAccess connects to “” and I have SiteA and SiteB running, ready to accept connections, and I just swing DNS back and forth between the sites, I’m golden right? I figured this thing out.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so easy. When DirectAccess connects, the first thing that happens is that an IPv6 transition tunnel is established. This is typically either Teredo or IP-HTTPS. Your transition tunnel is established based upon a DNS name, and so if you have clients connecting to SiteA and change DNS so that it points “” to SiteB instead – those clients will successfully swing their IP-HTTPS tunnels over to SiteB! Great! Except nothing works inside that tunnel.

The reason nothing works inside that new IP-HTTPS tunnel is because DirectAccess traffic flows within IPsec tunnels that ride inside the transition tunnel. So inside your IP-HTTPS tunnel that you have now created, you need the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to be able to establish IPsec tunnels within that transition tunnel. The problem with IPsec ConSec rules is that they can only be configured to create IPsec connections between IP addresses – not DNS names. So even though your IP-HTTPS transition tunnel has been swung successfully with a simple DNS change (or a GSLB) – when your WFAS tries to build IPsec tunnels, it only knows about the IP addresses that are specific to SiteA. Those IPs are, of course, not going to do anything to connect in SiteB, and so no IPsec tunnels will be built – and DirectAccess will fail to carry any traffic.

Windows 8 and Windows 10 are capable of being aware of multiple IP-HTTPS entry points at the same time, and also of maintaining connections for multiple IPsec endpoints at the same time. This is the magic that allows DirectAccess Multi-Site to work for those newer operating systems. Windows 7 clients do not have this capability. Win7 can only be aware of one IP-HTTPS destination, and one set of IPsec ConSec rules. Have some people played around with WFAS on Win7 and forced it, using customized GPOs, to be aware of multiple IPsec destinations? Sure. Is it supported? No way.

In the end, I just wanted to spell out the reasoning behind Multi-Site only working with Win8 and Win10. It is a common misconception that Windows 7 clients can also utilize Multi-Site in special circumstances, which is probably the fault of that TechNet article from a long time ago. This is not true, and if you configure Multi-Site, plan on all of your Windows 7 client computers to only be connecting through a single site, with no way to failover during an outage. This is just the way it works.

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Cloud and Datacenter Management

Certificates expire – a tale of DirectAccess woe

When certificates expire, DirectAccess breaks.

Such a simple sentence, yet so powerful. While this is certainly no ground-breaking, earth-shattering piece of news, it is something that I need to remind people of far too often. Since I have been implementing and supporting DirectAccess for many years now, it is no surprise that I receive numerous calls like “My DirectAccess is down, help me now!” every year. What is the cause of these outages? It almost always boils down to an expired certificate.

There are three different places that certificates are used in a DirectAccess environment. Let’s review those three, so that you can stay on top of keeping those certificates fresh and renewed!

SSL certificate for NLS

The first certificate at play in the DirectAccess world is not even on your DA server, or at least it shouldn’t be. If you are co-hosting your NLS website on the DirectAccess server itself, you have other problems (or you will). Move that guy off to its own server! Assuming you have setup the NLS website properly and it is running on its own web server that is NOT the DirectAccess server, that web server contains an SSL certificate which is used to validate traffic coming into the NLS website. This SSL certificate might be one that you purchased from a public CA, in which case you would probably get a reminder from them annually about renewing it. However, many times the NLS certificate is one issued from your internal CA server to save costs, and if that is the case then it may not be on anybody’s radar to renew it when it expires. An expired NLS certificate will wreak havoc with your DA client computers, don’t risk it. Make sure that certificate gets updated regularly!

SSL certificate for IP-HTTPS

The second certificate in DA is also an SSL certificate, but this one does reside on the DirectAccess server. This SSL certificate should be one that you purchased from a public authority, or is maybe even a wildcard that your company holds. In either case, hopefully the CA will prompt you with some emails when the expiration date is coming. To be safe though, check your certificate store on the DirectAccess server to make sure your own calendar is marked with enough time to renew this one as well. An invalid IP-HTTPS certificate means that many of your DA clients will suddenly fail to connect.

Machine certificates for IPsec

The final place that certificates are used in a DirectAccess environment is the machine certificates issued from your internal CA server to both the DA server, as well as every single one of your DA client machines (the laptops, tablets, etc). While it is possible to get DirectAccess working without these certificates, they really enhance the security of the tunnel authentication process and so I absolutely recommend that you use these certificates on all of your DA machines. These certificates take about 3 seconds to put in place on the machines, and you can easily establish a GPO with Autoenrollment rules so that these certificates get rolled around automatically, without any administrative input from your end. Try to get an automated system in place, or this one will turn into an administrative nightmare. Many companies have used the built-in “Computer” template in Windows CA for issuing this certificate, which is completely fine, except that the default validity date is only one year. If you have 1000 DirectAccess client computers and do not have an autoenrollment policy established, this means you have to renew 3 certificates every single day year round in order to keep up. What happens when one of these expires? If the machine certificate on a DA client expires, that particular machine will not be able to connect until it gets a new copy of the certificate. This might mean that the user needs to come into the office in order to receive the new cert. But if the machine certificate that is on the DirectAccess server expires, watch out. You will have a situation where everyone will immediately stop connecting. As soon as you replace that certificate with a new one, they will immediately start working again, but in the meantime your ear will be bright red from all the phone calls.

Bottom line: Mark your calendars for certificate expiration dates, and give yourself enough time to get them done before the actual expiration happens!

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Cloud and Datacenter Management

Security policies can block DirectAccess Manage-Out traffic

Anyone who has installed DirectAccess a number of times probably knows by now that existing corporate GPO settings, particularly security settings, can wreak havoc on a DirectAccess server. If you join your DirectAccess server to the domain and let all of your existing policies apply to it, you may have effectively broken DirectAccess before you even get it configured, because DA has many moving parts and any lockdown settings can negatively affect it. The answer to this is pretty simple, when we join a DirectAccess server to the domain we pre-stage it inside an OU where GPO inheritance is blocked, making sure that the existing security policies do not get applied to the server.

I ran across an issue recently that was completely new to me, but is something Microsoft has tackled at least once before and is also related to existing security policy settings that might exist inside a network. In this case we got DirectAccess itself up and running, that process went well and we had inbound connections working all day long. The customer wanted to add manage-out capabilities to this environment, and to meet the needs of their network that was not ready for full IPv6 routing, we employed ISATAP. This is something we have done numerous times, and I configured the Selective ISATAP environment in exactly the same way that I always do. Everything setup fine, the management servers received ISATAP IPv6 addresses, the DA client computers got their firewall rules telling them what kind of traffic to allow on the inbound, and we were able to successfully ping from the management servers, outbound to the DirectAccess laptops. Success! Right?


Only pings would work. ICMP was the only kind of traffic that would make it through the manage-out connections. The DA clients could reach inbound properly, and the DirectAccess server could reach outbound to the clients properly as well. We could RDP successfully from the console of the DirectAccess server outbound to a DirectAccess client. But we could NOT RDP from a management server to a DA client. Only ping.

Very much testing ensued, including a scrap of ISATAP and going with a real, native IPv6 configuration inside the network which still gave us the exact same symptoms?! We then took some trace files on the DirectAccess server, and noticed a number of IPsec Security Association authentication failure messages. IPsec authentication in DirectAccess itself was working fine, because we had both Infrastructure and Intranet tunnels live on the inbound. However, it appeared that the DirectAccess server was attempting to build new Security Associations whenever we tried to perform a manage-out functions from a management server to a DA client, and these associations were failing. The DA server builds these manage-out tunnels itself, but it does so “on behalf” of the management server. This turns out to be the core of the issue. In researching this, we stumbled on an old post:

These were the exact symptoms we were experiencing, where ICMP was the only type of traffic that would make it through the manage-out traffic flow. When we checked into this “Access this computer from the network” security policy setting, it was set normally on the management servers and the DirectAccess server itself, but checking this same setting on the client computers showed us that an existing security policy inside the network was modifying these permissions on all of their client computers! We created a new policy that set the permissions for “Access this computer from the network” back to the default settings, shown in the screenshot below, and immediately our manage-out traffic from the management servers to the DirectAccess client computers started working as it should.

Here is the particular setting to watch out for, make sure these are set to the defaults!!

Computer Configuration | Windows Settings | Security Settings | Local Policies | User Rights Assignment

Access this computer from the network” must include these four: Administrators, Backup Operators, Everyone, and Users.

permissionsJordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Enterprise Security


BigHand now works over DirectAccess

Implementing DirectAccess for legal industry customers has become a commonplace activity around here over the last couple of years, for good reason. DirectAccess is essentially a completely automatic VPN connection, and so using DirectAccess instead of a traditional VPN saves lawyers time, billable time, every single time that they open their computer to use it.

Following many DirectAccess installations, all of the applications your users need on a day to day basis immediately start working, whenever the user is connect to the internet. This is the exact purpose of DirectAccess and is what we strive for in every install. However, the heart of DirectAccess is IPv6 packets, and applications which do not know how to “talk IPv6” cannot connect successfully over a DirectAccess tunnel.

NOTE: IPv6 is not required inside your network for DirectAccess to work. This is a very common misconception. Almost 100% of the DirectAccess installs I have worked with or seen in the field are on networks that are completely IPv4. But even in these IPv4-only networks, DirectAccess itself still utilizes IPv6 packets between the DA client and the DA server – the portion of the communication that is happening over the internet. This is core behavior of how DirectAccess works and cannot be changed.

Since DirectAccess packets are always IPv6 when they are moving over the internet, that means your client-side applications must be capable of generating IPv6 packets in order to make use of that IPv6 DA tunnel. In our work with DirectAccess over the past number of years, we have discovered a number of mainstream applications which are not capable of creating these IPv6 packets, and therefore fail to connect when a laptop is using DirectAccess.

What we are here to talk about today is BigHand Digital Dictation.

BigHand is a very common application that we run across when working with law firms, and it is always frustrating to install a brand new DirectAccess environment, only to discover that BigHand cannot connect. The same is true for WorkSite, and often these two applications go hand-in-hand. Neither connect natively over DirectAccess, and these two pieces of software are typically very important to the way that law firms do business.

This is why we created App46.

The App46 tool created by IVO Networks is an agent that we install on the DirectAccess client computers. This agent intercepts packet streams from these non-IPv6 applications, translates those packets into IPv6, and then sends them on their way successfully across the DirectAccess tunnels. We have utilized App46 in many customer locations now in order to make both WorkSite as well as BigHand connect and work just like they do when inside the office.

If you have any questions or would like additional information about App46, as always feel free to reach out to me directly.

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Enterprise Security

For IVO Networks – Software Sales, please contact:
Eric Bettermann –

Does Windows 10 support DirectAccess?

A few customers have asked me recently about something troubling that they had been told. DirectAccess isn’t supported in Windows 10?

I’m happy to report that this is entirely false!

Windows 10 absolutely contains DirectAccess and all of the components to utilize it, just like Windows 8 and 8.1. Also just like Windows 8.x, the only SKU in Windows 10 that will contain the DirectAccess components is Enterprise, so you must be running that version on your client machines in order to utilize DirectAccess.

Not much has changed in DA during the swing to Windows 10, it works seamlessly and automatically, with all of the special magic that it has always contained. I mean really, could they make it better?

I think that some of the “unsupportability” confusion may stem from two things. First, when the Windows 10 preview came out last year, there was trouble getting it to work with DirectAccess. This happened for folks who were relying on the WMI filtering in their DA environment to determine which machines received the DA connectivity settings, and which ones did not. Now, I’m not a fan of the WMI filtering feature in the first place, so I never set it up that way. It’s much better to use a group for filtering! But regardless of that, for those folks who use the WMI filtering, tweaks had to be made in that filtering in order for it to recognize Windows 10 machines so that it would give them the DirectAccess settings in the first place.

A second point of confusion is UAG. DirectAccess works in Windows 10, and your server-side infrastructure of DirectAccess doesn’t make much difference, it can be Server 2012, Server 2012 R2, or even a Server 2008 R2 running UAG – for DirectAccess. Not for the UAG web portals. If you are running UAG for DirectAccess, you can continue doing that and it’ll continue to work very well. I know many people who are continuing to use UAG instead of Server 2012 for DirectAccess, because it works well and contains a pretty stellar firewalling system to protect itself.

But for those who are using UAG for web portals, those SSLVPN style functions, that is where support is ending as Windows 10 comes out. Up until this point, whenever new operating systems or browsers have been released there is always some kind of update or service pack or patch to UAG in order to make it correctly recognize and work with the UAG web portals. This releasing of updates for UAG is now going to stop, and so Windows 10 is officially unsupported with regards to UAG web portals. This is true.

But thankfully…this has nothing to do with DirectAccess.

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Enterprise Security

DirectAccess and FRS are not friends

File Replication Services (FRS) is something that Microsoft has been trying to get customers to stop using for many years. The newer DFS-R is superior in every way, and the migration from FRS to DFS-R is now quite a simple process, everyone should be making the switch. But of course as we always see with every outdated technology, some of us still love what we know, or for whatever the reason there are still enough customers using FRS right now that Microsoft has decided to update the DirectAccess unsupported configurations article in TechNet to address problems they have seen with this coexistence:


File Replication Service (FRS) distribution of Group Policy objects (SYSVOL replications)

Do not deploy DirectAccess in environments where your domain controllers are running the File Replication Service (FRS) for distribution of Group Policy objects (SYSVOL replications). Deployment of DirectAccess is not supported when you use FRS.

You are using FRS if you have domain controllers that are running Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2003 R2. In addition, you might be using FRS if you previously used Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 domain controllers and you never migrated SYSVOL replication from FRS to Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R).

If you deploy DirectAccess with FRS SYSVOL replication, you risk the unintentional deletion of DirectAccess Group Policy objects that contain the DirectAccess server and client configuration information. If these objects are deleted, your DirectAccess deployment will suffer an outage, and client computers that use DirectAccess will not be able to connect to your network.

If you are planning to deploy DirectAccess, you must use domain controllers that are running operating systems later than Windows Server 2003 R2, and you must use DFS-R.


This isn’t to say that it won’t work, for a while at least, but it is now officially unsupported. I have personally installed DirectAccess into Server 2003 domain environments numerous times and have never seen this problem firsthand, but it’s possible those orgs were simply not using FRS.

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Enterprise Security

Microsoft Ignite 2015!

So this post is a few days later than intended, but it seems like I hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since setting foot in Chicago! The first-ever Ignite conference is going very well, with an astounding 23,000 of us in attendance! “Mobile First, Cloud First” is our motto here and while I don’t work as regularly today with Azure as I’m sure I will over the coming years, I couldn’t agree more with the “mobile first” message. Enabling users to work from wherever they are has been the focus of IVO Networks for many years, and I am super excited to soak up as much knowledge here at Ignite as possible.

I also want to put out a public congrats and recognition to my friends Idan and Ohad whose company Aorato was recently acquired by Microsoft and was mentioned in the Keynote address on Monday! If you haven’t heard of it, be sure to check out Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics. This promises to be an amazing technology that is going to save plenty of business’s bacon.

Well, that’s it for now. Off to another session and then some back to back after-hours events to fill in the night. Never a dull moment at these conferences.

Jordan Krause
Microsoft MVP | Enterprise Security