Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Always On VPN with Azure GatewayRecently I wrote about VPN server deployment options for Windows 10 Always On VPN in Azure. In that post I indicated the native Azure VPN gateway could be used to support Always On VPN connections using Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). In this post I’ll outline the requirements and configuration steps for implementing this solution.

Requirements

To support Always On VPN, point-to-site VPN connections must be enabled on the Azure VPN gateway. Not all Azure VPN gateways are alike, and point-to-site connections are not supported in all scenarios. For Always On VPN, the Azure VPN gateway must meet the following requirements.

VPN SKU

The Azure VPN gateway SKU must be VpnGw1, VpnGw2, VpnGw3, VpnGw1AZ, VpnGw2AZ, or VpnGw3AZ. The Basic SKU is not supported.

VPN Type

The VPN type must be route-based. Policy-based VPN gateways are not supported for point-to-site VPN connections.

Limitations

Using the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN may not be ideal in all scenarios. The following limitations should be considered thoroughly before choosing the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN.

Device Tunnel

RADIUS/EAP authentication for user tunnel connections is not supported if the Azure VPN gateway is configured to support device tunnel with machine certificate authentication.

Maximum Connections

A maximum of 250, 500, and 1000 concurrent IKEv2 connections are supported when using the VpnGw1/AZ, VpnGw2/AZ, and VpnGw3/AZ SKUs, respectively (x2 for active/active gateway deployments). In addition, a maximum of 128 concurrent SSTP connections are supported for all VPN gateway SKUs (x2 for active/active gateway deployments).

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/vpn-gateway/vpn-gateway-about-vpngateways#gwsku

RADIUS Requirements

To support Always On VPN connections, the Azure VPN gateway must be configured to authenticate to a RADIUS server. The RADIUS server must be reachable from the VPN gateway subnet. The RADIUS server can be hosted in Azure or on-premises. Before proceeding, ensure that any network routes, firewall rules, and site-to-site VPN tunnel configuration is in place to allow this communication.

RADIUS Configuration

Guidance for configuring Windows Server NPS for Always On VPN can be found here. The only difference when configuring NPS for use with Azure VPN gateway is the RADIUS client configuration.

Open the NPS management console (nps.msc) and follow the steps below to configure Windows Server NPS to support Always On VPN client connections from the Azure VPN gateway.

1. Expand RADIUS Clients and Servers.
2. Right-click RADIUS Clients and choose New.
3. Enter a descriptive name in the Friendly name field.
4. Enter the Azure VPN gateway subnet using CIDR notation in the Address (IP or DNS) field. The gateway subnet can be found by viewing the properties of the Azure VPN gateway in the Azure portal.
5. Enter the shared secret to be used for RADIUS communication in the Shared secret field.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Azure VPN Gateway Configuration

To begin, provision a Virtual Network Gateway in Azure that meets the requirements outlined above. Guidance for implementing an Azure VPN gateway can be found here. Once complete, follow the steps below to enable support for Always On VPN client connections.

Enable Point-to-Site

Perform the following steps to enable point-to-site VPN connectivity.

1. In the navigation pane of the Azure VPN gateway settings click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click Configure Now and specify an IPv4 address pool to be assigned to VPN clients. This IP address pool must be unique in the organization and must not overlap with any IP address ranges defined in the Azure virtual network.
3. From the Tunnel type drop-down list select IKEv2 and SSTP (SSL).
4. In the RADIUS authentication field enter the IPv4 address of the RADIUS server. At the time of this writing only a single IPv4 address is supported. If RADIUS redundancy is required, consider creating a load balanced NPS cluster.
5. In the Server secret field enter the RADIUS shared secret.
6. Click Save to save the configuration.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

VPN Client Configuration

Perform the following steps to configure a Windows 10 VPN client to connect to the Azure VPN gateway.

Download VPN Configuration

1. Click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click Download VPN client.
3. Select EAPMSCHAv2 (yes, that’s correct even if EAP-TLS will be used!)
4. Click Download.
5. Open the downloaded zip file and extract the VpnSettings.XML file from the Generic folder.
6. Copy the FQDN in the VpnServer element in VpnSettings.XML. This is the FQDN that will be used in the template VPN connection and later in ProfileXML.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Create a Test VPN Connection

On a Windows 10 device create a test VPN profile using the VPN server address copied previously. Configure EAP settings to match those configured on the NPS server and test connectivity.

Create an Always On VPN Connection

Once the VPN has been validated using the test profile created previously, the VPN server and EAP configuration from the test profile can be used to create the Always On VPN profile for publishing using Intune, SCCM, or PowerShell.

IKEv2 Security Configuration

The default IKEv2 security parameters used by the Azure VPN gateway are better than Windows Server, but the administrator will notice that a weak DH key (1024 bit) is used in phase 1 negotiation.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Use the following PowerShell commands to update the default IKEv2 security parameters to recommended baseline defaults, including 2048-bit keys (DH group 14) and AES-128 for improved performance.

Connect-AzAccount
Select-AzSubscription -SubscriptionName [Azure Subscription Name]

$Gateway = [Gateway Name]
$ResourceGroup = [Resource Group Name]

$IPsecPolicy = New-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -IpsecEncryption AES128 -IpsecIntegrity SHA256 -SALifeTime 28800 -SADataSize 102400000 -IkeEncryption AES128 -IkeIntegrity SHA256 -DhGroup DHGroup14 -PfsGroup PFS14

Set-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -VirtualNetworkGatewayName $Gateway -ResourceGroupName $ResourceGroup -VpnClientIPsecParameter $IPsecPolicy

Note: Be sure to update the cryptography settings on the test VPN connection and in ProfileXML for Always On VPN connections to match the new VPN gateway settings. Failing to do so will result in an IPsec policy mismatch error.

Additional Information

Microsoft Azure VPN Gateway Overview

About Microsoft Azure Point-to-Site VPN

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

 

 

 

Always On VPN Options for Azure Deployments

Always On VPN Options for Azure DeploymentsOrganizations everywhere are rapidly adopting Microsoft Azure public cloud infrastructure to extend or replace their existing datacenter. As traditional on-premises workloads are migrated to the cloud, customers are looking for options to host VPN services there as well.

Windows Server

Windows Server with the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) installed is a popular choice for on-premises Always On VPN deployments. Intuitively it would make sense to deploy Windows Server and RRAS in Azure as well. However, at the time of this writing, RRAS is not a supported workload on Windows Server in Azure.

Always On VPN Options for Azure Deployments

Reference: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2721672/microsoft-server-software-support-for-microsoft-azure-virtual-machines/

Although explicitly unsupported, it is possible to deploy Windows Server and RRAS in Azure for Always On VPN. In my experience it works well and can be an option for organizations willing to forgo formal support by Microsoft.

Azure Gateway

Options for supporting Always On VPN connections using native Azure VPN infrastructure depend on the type of VPN gateway chosen.

VPN Gateway

The Azure VPN Gateway can be configured to support client-based (point-to-site) VPN. With some additional configuration it can be used to support Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. Azure VPN gateway supports both IKEv2 and SSTP VPN protocols for client connections. The Azure VPN gateway has some limitations though. Consider the following:

  • A route-based VPN gateway is required
  • A maximum of 1000 concurrent IKEv2 connections are supported when using the VpnGw3 or VpnGw3AZ SKUs (2000 supported in active/active mode)
  • A maximum of 128 concurrent SSTP connections are supported on all gateway SKUs (256 supported in active/active mode)

Virtual WAN

Azure Virtual WAN is the future of remote connectivity for Azure. It includes support for client-based VPN (currently in public preview at the time of this writing), but only supports IKEv2 and OpenVPN VPN protocols for client connections. SSTP is not supported at all. Further, OpenVPN is not supported for Windows 10 Always On VPN, leaving IKEv2 as the only option, which poses some potential operational challenges. Virtual WAN offer much better scalability though, supporting up to 10,000 concurrent client-based VPN connections.

Virtual Appliance

The most supportable option for hosting VPN services in Azure for Windows 10 Always On VPN is to deploy a third-party Network Virtual Appliance (NVA). They are available from a variety of vendors including Cisco, Check Point, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, and many others. To support Windows 10 Always On VPN, the NVA vendor must either support IKEv2 for client-based VPN connections or have a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) VPN plug-in client available from the Microsoft store. Click here to learn more about Always On VPN and third-party VPN devices.

Note: Be careful when choosing an NVA as some vendors support IKEv2 only for site-to-site VPN, but not client-based VPN!

Hybrid Deployments

For organizations with hybrid cloud deployments (infrastructure hosted on-premises and in Azure), there are several options for choosing the best location to deploy VPN services. In general, it is recommended that client VPN connections be established nearest the resources accessed by remote clients. However, having VPN servers hosted both on-premises and in Azure is fully supported. In this scenario Azure Traffic Manager can be configured to intelligently route VPN connections for remote clients.

NetMotion Mobility

The NetMotion Mobility purpose-built enterprise VPN is a popular replacement for Microsoft DirectAccess. It is also an excellent alternative for enterprise organizations considering a migration to Always On VPN. It is a software-based solution that can be deployed on Windows Server and is fully supported running in Microsoft Azure. It offers many advanced features and capabilities not included in other remote access solutions.

Summary

Administrators have many options for deploying VPN servers in Azure to support Windows 10 Always On VPN. Windows Server and RRAS is the simplest and most cost-effective option, but it is not formally supported by Microsoft. Azure VPN gateway is an interesting alternative but lacks enough capacity for larger deployments. Azure Virtual WAN is another option but has limited protocol support. Deploying an NVA is a good choice, and NetMotion Mobility is an excellent alternative to both DirectAccess and Always On VPN that is software-based and fully supported in Azure.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Windows 10 Always On VPN and Third-Party VPN Devices

Windows 10 Always On VPN and Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Features and Limitations

Windows 10 Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Comparing DirectAccess and NetMotion Mobility

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Microsoft Azure

 

 

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