Remote Access is one of today’s “big things”. As an increasing number of people need access to information stored on work and home computers, the ability to access that information from anywhere is critical. Gone are the days when you could say “I’ll get that information to you when I get to my computer”. You need that information now if you want to be competitive in today’s business environment.
In the stone age of computing, the way to remotely access information on your computer was to use a dial-up connection. RAS dial-up connections worked over regular POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines and had speeds that ranged up to around 56kbps. Speed was a major problem with dial-up RAS connections, but an even bigger problem was the cost of the connections when a long distance number was required for access.
With the introduction and growth of the Internet, dial-up RAS connections became less relevant. The reason for this was the introduction of virtual private network (VPN) connections. VPN connections provided the same point to point connectivity that the dial-up RAS connections provided, but did so faster and cheaper, as the speed of the VPN connection could be as fast as the Internet link and the cost of the connection is independent of the destination. The only cost is that of the Internet link.
Virtual Private Networking
A VPN connection allows a computer to establish a virtual and private connection to a network over the Internet. The connection is virtual because when the computer establishes a VPN connection over the Internet, the computer making the VPN connection acts like a node that’s directly connected to the network, as if it had an Ethernet cable connected to that network. The user can access all the same resources he could connect to as if he were directly connected to the network. However, in the case of the VPN client connection to a VPN server, the connection is a virtual one because there is no actual Ethernet connection to the destination network. The connection is private because the contents of the datastream moving inside the VPN connection are encrypted so that no one over the Internet is able to intercept and read the contents of the communications moving over the VPN link.
Windows Servers and clients have supported VPN connections since the days of Windows NT and Windows 95. While Windows clients and servers have supported VPN connections for over a decade, the type of VPN support has evolved over time. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 now support three types of VPN connections. These are: