Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

Always On VPN and RRAS in AzureWhen deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN, it may be desirable to host the VPN server in Microsoft’s Azure public cloud. Recently I wrote about Always On VPN deployment options in Azure, and in that post I indicated that deploying Windows Server and the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) was one of those options. Although not formally supported by Microsoft, RRAS is often deployed in Azure because it is cost-effective, easy to manage, and provides flexible scalability.

Supportability

It’s important to state once again that although it is possible to successfully deploy Windows Server with RRAS in Azure to support Always On VPN, as of this writing it is not a formally supported workload. If the administrator makes the decision to deploy RRAS in Azure, they must also accept that Microsoft may refuse to assist with troubleshooting in this specific deployment scenario.

Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

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

Azure Prerequisites

The configuration of RRAS is identical to on-premises, with a few additional steps required by Azure infrastructure.

Windows Server

RRAS can be configured on any Windows Server virtual machine supported in Microsoft Azure. As with on-premises deployments, Server GUI and Core are supported. Domain-join is optional. The server can be deployed with one network interface or two.

Public IP

A public IP address must be assigned to the VPN server’s external network interface, or the internal interface if the VPN server is configured with a single network adapter. The IP address can be static or dynamic. When using a dynamic IP address, configure a CNAME record in DNS that points to the name configured for the IP address in Azure. If using a static IP address, an A host record can be configured pointing directly to the IP address.

Network Security Group

A Network Security Group (NSG) must be configured and assigned to the VPN server’s external or public-facing network interface that allows the following protocols and ports inbound.

  • TCP port 443 (SSTP)
  • UDP port 500 (IKEv2)
  • UDP port 4500 (IKEv2 NAT traversal)

RRAS in Azure

Below are the infrastructure requirements for supporting Windows Server RRAS VPN in Azure.

Client IP Subnet

Static IP address pool assignment must be used with RRAS. Using DHCP for VPN client IP address assignment in Azure is not supported and will not work. The IP subnet assigned to VPN clients by RRAS must be unique and not overlap with any existing Azure VNet subnets. If more than one VPN server is deployed, each server should be configured to assign a unique subnet for its clients.

IP Forwarding

IP forwarding must be enabled on the VPN server’s internal network interface. Follow the steps below to enable IP forwarding.

1. In the Azure portal, open the properties page for the internal network interface for the VPN server.
2. Click IP configurations in the navigation pane.
3. Click Enabled next to IP forwarding.
4. Click Save.

Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

Routing

Azure must be configured to route IP traffic from VPN clients back to the VPN server. Follow the steps below to create and assign a routing table in Azure.

1. Click Create Resource.
2. Enter “Route Table” in the search field and press Enter.
3. Click Route Table.
4. Click Create.
5. Enter a descriptive name for the route table in the Name field.
6. Choose an appropriate subscription from the Subscription drop-down list.
7. Select the resource group where the VPN server(s) reside.
8. Select the best location to deploy the route table resource from the Location drop-down list.
9. If the administrator wants to have the VPN client IP subnet route information published automatically, select Enabled for Virtual network gateway route propagation.
10. Click Create.

Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

Once complete, follow the steps below to define the route for VPN clients.

1. Open the properties page for the route table.
2. Click Routes in the navigation pane.
3. Click Add.
4. Enter a descriptive name in the Route name filed.
5. Enter the IP subnet assigned to VPN clients in the Address prefix field.
6. Select Virtual appliance from the Next hop type drop-down list.
7. Enter the IPv4 address assigned to the VPN server’s internal network interface in the Next hop address field.
8. Click Ok.
9. Repeat the steps above for each VPN server configured in Azure.

Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

Finally, follow the steps below to assign the route table to an Azure VNet subnet.

1. Open the properties page for the route table.
2. Click Subnets in the navigation pane.
3. Click Associate.
4. Click Virtual network.
5. Choose the appropriate Azure VNet.
6. Click Subnet.
7. Choose an Azure VNet subnet to assign the route table to.
8. Click Ok.
9. Repeat the steps above to assign the route table to any Azure VNet subnet that must be accessible by VPN clients. If VPN clients need access to on-premises resources via Azure site-to-site gateway, assign the route table to the Azure VPN gateway subnet.

Always On VPN and RRAS in Azure

Note: Azure only supports the assignment of one route table per subnet. If a route table is currently assigned, the VPN client subnet route can be added to an existing route table, if necessary.

Summary

Administrators have many choices when it comes to support Always On VPN connections hosted in Azure. RRAS on Windows Server can be an effective solution, assuming you can live without formal support. If having a formally supported solution is a hard requirement, consider deploying Always On VPN using the native Azure VPN gateway or another third-part Network Virtual Appliance (NVA).

Additional Information

Azure deployment options

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

 

 

Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic ManagerEliminating single points of failure is crucial to ensuring the highest levels of availability for any remote access solution. For Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments, the Windows Server 2016 Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) and Network Policy Server (NPS) servers can be load balanced to provide redundancy and high availability within a single datacenter. Additional RRAS and NPS servers can be deployed in another datacenter or in Azure to provide geographic redundancy if one datacenter is unavailable, or to provide access to VPN servers based on the location of the client.

Multisite Always On VPN

Unlike DirectAccess, Windows 10 Always On VPN does not natively include support for multisite. However, enabling multisite geographic redundancy can be implemented using Azure Traffic Manager.

Azure Traffic Manager

Traffic Manager is part of Microsoft’s Azure public cloud solution. It provides Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) functionality by resolving DNS queries for the VPN public hostname to an IP address of the most optimal VPN server.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Using Azure Traffic manager has some benefits, but it is not with some drawbacks.

Advantages – Azure Traffic Manager is easy to configure and use. It requires no proprietary hardware to procure, manage, and support.

Disadvantages – Azure Traffic Manager offers only limited health check options. Azure Traffic Manager’s HTTPS health check only accepts HTTP 200 OK responses as valid. Most TLS-based VPNs will respond with an HTTP 401 Unauthorized, which Azure Traffic Manager considers “degraded”. The only option for endpoint monitoring is a simple TCP connection to port 443, which is a less accurate indicator of endpoint availability.

Note: This scenario assumes that RRAS with Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) or another third-party TLS-based VPN server is in use. If IKEv2 is to be supported exclusively, it will still be necessary to publish an HTTP or HTTPS-based service for Azure Traffic Manager to monitor site availability.

Traffic Routing Methods

Azure Traffic Manager provide four different methods for routing traffic.

Priority – Select this option to provide active/passive failover. A primary VPN server is defined to which all traffic is routed. If the primary server is unavailable, traffic will be routed to another backup server.

Weighted – Select this option to provide active/active failover. Traffic is routed to all VPN servers equally, or unequally if desired. The administrator defines the percentage of traffic routed to each server.

Performance – Select this option to route traffic to the VPN server with the lowest latency. This ensures VPN clients connect to the server that responds the quickest.

Geographic – Select this option to route traffic to a VPN server based on the VPN client’s physical location.

Configure Azure Traffic Manager

Open the Azure management portal and follow the steps below to configure Azure Traffic Manager for multisite Windows 10 Always On VPN.

Create a Traffic Manager Resource

  1. Click Create a resource.
  2. Click Networking.
  3. Click Traffic Manager profile.

Create a Traffic Manager Profile

  1. Enter a unique name for the Traffic Manager profile.
  2. Select an appropriate routing method (described above).
  3. Select a subscription.
  4. Create or select a resource group.
  5. Select a resource group location.
  6. Click Create.

Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Important Note: The name of the Traffic Manager profile cannot be used by VPN clients to connect to the VPN server, since a TLS certificate cannot be obtained for the trafficmanager.net domain. Instead, create a CNAME DNS record that points to the Traffic Manager FQDN and ensure that name matches the subject or a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) entry on the VPN server’s TLS and/or IKEv2 certificates.

Endpoint Monitoring

Open the newly created Traffic Manager profile and perform the following tasks to enable endpoint monitoring.

  1. Click Configuration.
  2. Select TCP from the Protocol drop-down list.
  3. Enter 443 in the Port field.
  4. Update any additional settings, such as DNS TTL, probing interval, tolerated number of failures, and probe timeout, as required.
  5. Click Save.

Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Endpoint Configuration

Follow the steps below to add VPN endpoints to the Traffic Manager profile.

  1. Click Endpoints.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Select External Endpoint from the Type drop-down list.
  4. Enter a descriptive name for the endpoint.
  5. Enter the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) or the IP address of the first VPN server.
  6. Select a geography from the Location drop-down list.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Repeat the steps above for any additional datacenters where VPN servers are deployed.

Always On VPN Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Summary

Implementing multisite by placing VPN servers is multiple physical locations will ensure that VPN connections can be established successfully even when an entire datacenter is offline. In addition, active/active scenarios can be implemented, where VPN client connections can be routed to the most optimal datacenter based on a variety of parameters, including current server load or the client’s current location.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes

 

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

NetMotion MobilityOne of the many advantages NetMotion Mobility offers is that it requires no proprietary hardware to deliver its advanced capabilities and performance. It is a software solution that can be installed on any physical or virtual Windows server. This provides great deployment flexibility by allowing administrators to deploy this remote access solution on their existing virtual infrastructure, which is much less costly than investing in dedicated hardware or virtual appliances.

Cloud Deployment

As customers begin moving their traditional on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, it’s good to know that NetMotion Mobility is fully supported in popular public cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure. Installing and configuring Mobility on a server in Azure requires a few important changes to a standard Azure VM deployment however. Below is detailed guidance for installing and configuring NetMotion Mobility on a Windows Server 2016 virtual machine hosted in the Microsoft Azure public cloud.

Azure Networking Configuration

Before installing the NetMotion Mobility software, follow the steps below to configure the Azure VM with a static public IP address and enable IP forwarding on the internal network interface.

  1. In the Azure management portal, select the NetMotion Mobility virtual machine and click Networking.
  2. Click on the public-facing network interface.
  3. In the Settings section click IP configurations.
  4. In the IP configurations section click on the IP configuration for the network interface.
  5. In the Public IP address setting section click Enabled for the Public IP address.
  6. Click Configure required settings for the IP address.
  7. Click Create New.
  8. Enter a descriptive name and select Static as the assignment method.
    Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  9. Click OK
  10. Click Save.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in AzureNote: The process of saving the network interface configuration takes a few minutes. Be patient!
  11. Note the public IP address, as this will be used later during the Mobility configuration.
  12. Close the IP address configuration blade.
  13. In the IP forwarding settings section click Enabled for IP forwarding.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  14. Click Save.

NetMotion Mobility Installation

Proceed with the installation of NetMotion Mobility. When prompted for the external address, enter the public IP address created previously.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Next choose the option to Use pool of virtual IP addresses. Click Add and enter the starting and ending IP addresses, subnet prefix length, and default gateway and click OK.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Complete the remaining NetMotion Mobility configuration as required.

Azure Routing Table

A user defined routing table must be configured to ensure that NetMotion Mobility client traffic is routed correctly in Azure. Follow the steps below to complete the configuration.

  1. In the Azure management portal click New.
  2. In the Search the Marketplace field enter route table.
  3. In the results section click Route table.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Enter a descriptive name and select a subscription, resource group, and location.
  6. Click Create.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Once the deployment has completed successfully, click Go to resource in the notifications list.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Follow the steps below to add a route to the route table.

  1. In the Settings sections click Routes.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Enter a descriptive name.
  4. In the Address prefix field enter the subnet used by mobility clients defined earlier.
  5. Select Virtual appliance as the Next hop type.
  6. Enter the IP address of the NetMotion Mobility server’s internal network interface.
  7. Click OK.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  8. Click Subnets.
  9. Click Associate.
  10. Click Choose a virtual network and select the network where the NetMotion Mobility gateway resides.
  11. Click Choose a subnet and select the subnet where the NetMotion Mobility gateway’s internal network interface resides.
  12. Click OK.

Note: If clients connecting to the NetMotion Mobility server need to access resources on-premises via a site-to-site gateway, be sure to associate the route table with the Azure gateway subnet.

Azure Network Security Group

A network security group must be configured to allow inbound UDP port 5008 to allow external clients to reach the NetMotion Mobility gateway server. Follow the steps below to create and assign a network security group.

  1. In the Azure management portal click New.
  2. In the Search the Marketplace field enter network security group.
  3. In the results section click Network security group.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Enter a descriptive name and select a subscription, resource group, and location.
  6. Click Create.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Once the deployment has completed successfully, click Go to resource in the notifications list.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Follow the steps below to configure the network security group.

  1. In the Settings section click Inbound security rules.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Enter 5008 in the Destination port ranges field.
  4. Select UDP for the protocol.
  5. Select Allow for the action.
  6. Enter a descriptive name.
  7. Click OK.
    Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  8. Click Network Interfaces.
  9. Click Associate.
  10. Select the external network interface of the NetMotion Mobility gateway server.

Summary

After completing the steps above, install the client software and configure it to use the static public IP address created previously. Alternatively, configure a DNS record to point to the public IP address and specify the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) instead of the IP address itself.

Additional Resources

Enabling Secure Remote Administration for the NetMotion Mobility Console

NetMotion Mobility Device Tunnel Configuration

NetMotion Mobility as an Alternative to Microsoft DirectAccess

NetMotion Mobility and Microsoft DirectAccess Comparison Whitepaper

NetMotion and Microsoft DirectAccess On-Demand Webinar

Deployment Considerations for DirectAccess on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Organizations are rapidly deploying Windows server infrastructure with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. With traditional on-premises infrastructure now hosted in the cloud, DirectAccess is also being deployed there more commonly.

Supportability

Interestingly, Microsoft has expressly stated that DirectAccess is not formally supported on their own public cloud platform, Azure. However, there is no formal statement of non-support for DirectAccess hosted on other non-Microsoft public cloud platforms. With supportability for DirectAccess on AWS unclear, many companies are taking the approach that if it isn’t unsupported, then it must be supported. I’d suggest proceeding with caution, as Microsoft could issue formal guidance to the contrary in the future.

DirectAccess on AWS

Deploying DirectAccess on AWS is similar to deploying on premises, with a few notable exceptions, outlined below.

IP Addressing

It is recommended that an IP address be exclusively assigned to the DirectAccess server in AWS, as shown here.

Deployment Considerations for DirectAccess on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Prerequisites Check

When first configuring DirectAccess, the administrator will encounter the following warning message.

“The server does not comply with some DirectAccess prerequisites. Resolve all issues before proceed with DirectAccess deployment.”

The warning message itself states that “One or more network adapters should be configured with a static IP address. Obtain a static address and assign it to the adapter.

Deployment Considerations for DirectAccess on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

IP addressing for virtual machines are managed entirely by AWS. This means the DirectAccess server will have a DHCP-assigned address, even when an IP address is specified in AWS. Assigning static IP addresses in the guest virtual machine itself is also not supported. However, this warning message can safely be ignored.

No Support for Load Balancing

It is not possible to create load-balanced clusters of DirectAccess servers for redundancy or scalability on AWS. This is because enabling load balancing for DirectAccess requires the IP address of the DirectAccess server be changed in the operating system, which is not supported on AWS. To eliminate single points of failure in the DirectAccess architecture or to add additional capacity, multisite must be enabled. Each additional DirectAccess server must be provisioned as an individual entry point.

Network Topology

DirectAccess servers on AWS can be provisioned with one or two network interfaces. Using two network interfaces is recommended, with the external network interface of the DirectAccess server residing in a dedicated perimeter/DMZ network. The external network interface must use either the Public or Private Windows firewall profile. DirectAccess will not work if the external interface uses the Domain profile. For the Public and Private profile to be enabled, domain controllers must not be reachable from the perimeter/DMZ network. Ensure the perimeter/DMZ network cannot access the internal network by restricting network access in EC2 using a Security Group, or on the VPC using a Network Access Control List (ACL) or custom route table settings.

External Connectivity

A public IPv4 address must be associated with the DirectAccess server in AWS. There are several ways to accomplish this. The simplest way is to assign a public IPv4 address to the virtual machine (VM). However, a public IP address can only be assigned to the VM when it is deployed initially and cannot be added later. Alternatively, an Elastic IP can be provisioned and assigned to the DirectAccess server at any time.

An ACL must also be configured for the public IP that restricts access from the Internet to only inbound TCP port 443. To provide additional protection, consider deploying an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) appliance like the Citrix NetScaler or F5 BIG-IP to enforce client certificate authentication for DirectAccess clients.

Network Location Server (NLS)

If an organization is hosting all of its Windows infrastructure in AWS and all clients will be remote, Network Location Server (NLS) availability becomes much less critical than with traditional on-premises deployments. For cloud-only deployments, hosting the NLS on the DirectAccess server is a viable option. It eliminates the need for dedicated NLS, reducing costs and administrative overhead. If multisite is configured, ensure that the NLS is not using a self-signed certificate, as this is unsupported.

Deployment Considerations for DirectAccess on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

However, for hybrid cloud deployments where on-premises DirectAccess clients share the same internal network with cloud-hosted DirectAccess servers, it is recommended that the NLS be deployed on dedicated, highly available servers following the guidance outlined here and here.

Client Provisioning

All supported DirectAccess clients will work with DirectAccess on AWS. If the domain infrastructure is hosted exclusively in AWS, provisioning clients can be performed using Offline Domain Join (ODJ). Provisioning DirectAccess clients using ODJ is only supported in Windows 8.x/10. Windows 7 clients cannot be provisioned using ODJ and must be joined to the domain using another form of remote network connectivity such as VPN.

Additional Resources

DirectAccess No Longer Supported in Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Server Software Support for Azure Virtual Machines

DirectAccess Network Location Server (NLS) Guidance

DirectAccess Network Location Server (NLS) Deployment Considerations for Large Enterprises

Provisioning DirectAccess Clients using Offline Domain Join (ODJ)

DirectAccess SSL Offload and IP-HTTPS Preauthentication with Citrix NetScaler

DirectAccess SSL Offload and IP-HTTPS Preauthentication with F5 BIG-IP

Planning and Implementing DirectAccess with Windows Server 2016 Video Training Course

Implementing DirectAccess with Windows Server 2016 Book

DirectAccess No Longer Supported in Microsoft Azure

DirectAccess No Longer Supported on Windows Server in AzureMicrosoft has historically not supported DirectAccess running on Windows Server in the Microsoft Azure public cloud. In the past, this was due to limitations imposed by the underlying cloud infrastructure, as I documented here. When Microsoft moved from the old service manager model (classic) to the newer resource manager infrastructure, many of the issues that prevented the DirectAccess workload from being stable were resolved. There are still some fundamental limitations to deploying DirectAccess in Azure as I documented here, but for the most part it was a workable solution. In fact, Microsoft even updated their support statement for DirectAccess on Azure, quietly removing it from the unsupported roles list in July 2016.

Sadly, Microsoft has reversed their decision on the support of DirectAccess in Azure. As many of you have noticed or commented on some of my posts, Microsoft recently added clarification on support for remote access on Windows Server in Azure, explicitly indicating that DirectAccess was not included in Remote Access support.

Reference: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2721672

You’ll be glad to know that DirectAccess is indeed supported in Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS). I’ll be drafting some guidance for deploying DirectAccess in AWS soon. Stay tuned!

Additional Resources

Azure Resource Manager vs. Classic Deployment: Understand Deployment Models and the State of your Resources

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Implementing DirectAccess in Windows Server 2016 Book

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Introduction

DirectAccess Now a Supported Workload in Microsoft AzureMany organizations are preparing to implement DirectAccess on Microsoft’s public cloud infrastructure. Deploying DirectAccess in Azure is fundamentally no different than implementing it on premises, with a few important exceptions (see below). This article provides essential guidance for administrators to configure this unique workload in Azure.

Important Note: There has been much confusion regarding the supportability of DirectAccess in Azure. Historically it has not been supported. Recently, it appeared briefly that Microsoft reversed their earlier decision and was in fact going to support it. However, the Microsoft Server Software Suport for Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines document has once again been revised to indicate that DirectAccess is indeed no longer formally supported on Azure. More details can be found here.

Azure Configuration

The following is guidance for configuring network interfaces, IP address assignments, public DNS, and network security groups for deploying DirectAccess in Azure.

Virtual Machine

Deploy a virtual machine in Azure with sufficient resources to meet expected demand. A minimum of two CPU cores should be provisioned. A VM with 4 cores is recommended. Premium storage on SSD is optional, as DirectAccess is not a disk intensive workload.

Network Interfaces

It is recommended that an Azure VM with a single network interface be provisioned for the DirectAccess role. This differs from on-premises deployments where two network interfaces are preferred because deploying VMs in Azure with two NICs is prohibitively difficult. At the time of this writing, Azure VMs with multiple network interfaces can only be provisioned using PowerShell, Azure CLI, or resource manager templates. In addition, Azure VMs with multiple NICs cannot belong to the same resource group as other VMs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, not all Azure VMs support multiple NICs.

Internal IP Address

Static IP address assignment is recommended for the DirectAccess VM in Azure. By default, Azure VMs are initially provisioned using dynamic IP addresses, so this change must be made after the VM has been provisioned. To assign a static internal IP address to an Azure VM, open the Azure management portal and perform the following steps:

  1. Click Virtual machines.
  2. Select the DirectAccess server VM.
  3. Click Network Interfaces.
  4. Click on the network interface assigned to the VM.
  5. Under Settings click IP configurations.
  6. Click Ipconfig1.
  7. In the Private IP address settings section choose Static for the assignment method.
  8. Enter an IP address for the VM.
  9. Click Save.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Public IP Address

The DirectAccess VM in Azure must have a public IP address assigned to it to allow remote client connectivity. To assign a public IP address to an Azure VM, open the Azure management portal and perform the following steps:

  1. Click Virtual machines.
  2. Select the DirectAccess server VM.
  3. Click Network Interfaces.
  4. Click on the network interface assigned to the VM.
  5. Under Settings click IP configurations.
  6. Click Ipconfig1.
  7. In the Public IP address settings section click Enabled.
  8. Click Configure required settings.
  9. Click Create New and provide a descriptive name for the public IP address.
  10. Choose an address assignment method.
  11. Click Ok and Save.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Public DNS

If the static IP address assignment method was chosen for the public IP address, create an A resource record in public DNS that resolves to this address. If the dynamic IP address assignment method was chosen, create a CNAME record in public DNS that maps to the public hostname for the DirectAccess server. To assign a public hostname to the VM in Azure, open the Azure management portal and perform the following steps:

  1. Click Virtual machines.
  2. Select the DirectAccess server VM.
  3. Click Overview.
  4. Click Public IP address/DNS name label.Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure
  5. Under Settings click Configuration.
  6. Choose an assignment method (static or dynamic).
  7. Enter a DNS name label.
  8. Click Save.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Note: The subject of the SSL certificate used for the DirectAccess IP-HTTPS listener must match the name of the public DNS record (A or CNAME) entered previously. The SSL certificate does not need to match the Azure DNS name label entered here.

Network Security Group

A network security group must be configured to allow IP-HTTPS traffic inbound to the DirectAccess server on the public IP address. To make the required changes to the network security group, open the Azure management portal and perform the following steps:

  1. Click Virtual machines.
  2. Select the DirectAccess server VM.
  3. Click Network interfaces.
  4. Click on the network interface assigned to the VM.
  5. Under Settings click Network security group.
  6. Click the network security group assigned to the network interface.
  7. Click Inbound security rules.
  8. Click Add and provide a descriptive name for the new rule.
  9. Click Any for Source.
  10. From the Service drop-down list choose HTTPS.
  11. Click Allow for Action.
  12. Click Ok.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Note: It is recommended that the default-allow-rdp rule be removed if it is not needed. At a minimum, scope the rule to allow RDP only from trusted hosts and/or networks.

DirectAccess Configuration

When performing the initial configuration of DirectAccess using the Remote Access Management console, the administrator will encounter the following warning message.

“One or more network adapters should be configured with a static IP address. Obtain a static address and assign it to the adapter.”

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

This message can safely be ignored because Azure infrastructure handles all IP address assignment for hosted VMs.

The public name of the DirectAccess server entered in the Remote Access Management console must resolve to the public IP address assigned to the Azure VM, as described previously.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Additional Considerations

When deploying DirectAccess in Azure, the following limitations should be considered.

Load Balancing

It is not possible to enable load balancing using Windows Network Load Balancing (NLB) or an external load balancer. Enabling load balancing for DirectAccess requires changing static IP address assignments in the Windows operating system directly, which is not supported in Azure. This is because IP addresses are assigned dynamically in Azure, even when the option to use static IP address assignment is chosen in the Azure management portal. Static IP address assignment for Azure virtual machines are functionally similar to using DHCP reservations on premises.

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure

Note: Technically speaking, the DirectAccess server in Azure could be placed behind a third-party external load balancer for the purposes of performing SSL offload or IP-HTTPS preauthentication, as outlined here and here. However, load balancing cannot be enabled in the Remote Access Management console and only a single DirectAccess server per entry point can be deployed.

Manage Out

DirectAccess manage out using native IPv6 or ISATAP is not supported in Azure. At the time of this writing, Azure does not support IPv6 addressing for Azure VMs. In addition, ISATAP does not work due to limitations imposed by the underlying Azure network infrastructure.

Summary

For organizations moving infrastructure to Microsoft’s public cloud, formal support for the DirectAccess workload in Azure is welcome news. Implementing DirectAccess in Azure is similar to on-premises with a few crucial limitations. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, administrators can configure DirectAccess in Azure to meet their secure remote access needs with a minimum of trouble.

Additional Resources

Implementing DirectAccess in Windows Server 2016
Fundamentals of Microsoft Azure 2nd Edition
Microsoft Azure Security Infrastructure
DirectAccess Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager
DirectAccess Consulting Services

DirectAccess Now a Supported Workload in Microsoft Azure

DirectAccess Now a Supported Workload in Microsoft Azure

Important Update! Microsoft has recently reversed their decision to support DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure. The Microsoft Server Software Support for Microsoft Azure Vitual Machines document has once again been revised to indicate that DirectAccess is formally unsuported in Azure.

Update: Detailed guidance for deploying DirectAccess in Azure can be found here.

This is great news for organizations moving their infrastructure to the Microsoft Azure public cloud! Microsoft recently made some important changes to their published support statement for server software running on Azure virtual machines. Although no formal announcement was made, they quietly removed DirectAccess from the list of unsupported roles for Windows Server 2012 R2.

DirectAccess Now a Supported Workload in Microsoft Azure

I’ve performed some limited testing with DirectAccess using Resource Manager VMs in Microsoft Azure and it appears to be stable. In addition, some of the challenges I encountered previously when implementing DirectAccess in Azure using Classic VMs have now been resolved. I’ll be publishing some guidance for deploying DirectAccess in Azure soon.

Additional Resources

Deploying DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure
Implementing DirectAccess in Windows Server 2016
Fundamentals of Microsoft Azure 2nd Edition
Microsoft Azure Security Infrastructure
DirectAccess Multisite with Azure Traffic Manager

Windows Server 2012 R2 DirectAccess on Amazon Web Services

A while back I wrote about configuring Windows Server 2012 R2 DirectAccess in Microsoft Azure. Running DirectAccess in Azure suffered from a few complications, and ultimately it is not supported. That doesn’t mean Azure wouldn’t be useful to stand up a test environment with which to evaluate DirectAccess, however. That’s not the case for DirectAccess running on Amazon though. DirectAccess is a fully supported workload running in the Amazon public cloud. Recently Amazon released a whitepaper demonstrating the use of Windows Server 2012 R2 DirectAccess running on AWS. Although this first whitepaper documents the use of DirectAccess in single-NIC mode supporting only Windows 8 clients, look for future whitepapers to cover topics like support for Windows 7 clients and high availability using Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB). For more information, visit the Amazon whitepapers site and select the Partner Whitepapers tab.

Configure Windows Server 2012 R2 DirectAcess on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Or, if you prefer, you can download the document directly here.

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