I have had queries from a couple of clients of mine regarding the deployment of UAG in a multi platform environment, not only Windows, but Mac OS X, Linux, Mobile devices etc. The demand seems to be for a secure connectivity solution that can handle this sort of bi-modal environment with minimum aggravation to users
one particular client emphasized a client-less solution to meet there needs as they are considered early adopters on the OS front and as we all know, that usually breaks software clients!
UAG seems to be synonymous with Microsoft Direct Access, and as an advanced platform for the deployment of Direct Access, that is an understandable misinterpretation, but UAG is much more than just a heavy duty implementation platform for Direct Access
The Trust Pyramid
As a new generation of users and devices enter the workplace, IT is presented with a set of new and unique challenges, to deliver content anywhere it’s desired to facilitate business needs, but keep it secure and manageable, also for business reasons, but how do we accomplish that when so many devices are not managed? personal cell phones, iPads, home computers? do we just block access from these devices? that’s fast becoming an unavailable option, especially as board level staff are bringing their shiny new iPad to the table.
The Trust pyramid fits nicely with UAGs remote access technologies, as each of them provide a different level of access and control while being deployed and managed from a common platform from an IT perspective
- Direct Access – Windows 7 Enterprise Only, Full, always on network access for the most trusted and managed of systems
- SSL VPN – Multi platform/browser, Configurable access to applications and services for less managed devices such as non domain OS X systems and Linux boxes
- Web Portals – Multi platform/browser, Restricted, specific access to applications for personal devices unknown to the IT department
As part of the pyramid we also take into account what we present, not just how we present it, for instance a user accessing the network via direct access may have full access to LOB and CRM systems, but users coming in on a personal tablet may be limited to non restricted file data and email, by providing separate connectivity mechanisms in this manner, UAG helps us meet the IT governance needs of our organization while also empowering users to do things whatever way is convenient for them.
Aside from Direct Access which I’m sure will have numerous posts of it’s own, SSL VPN connectivity through UAG provide non Windows 7 systems (either via ActiveX for IE sessions, or Java for non IE sessions) seamless access to systems configured to utilize it, this can spread the remote access to non Microsoft devices, and third-party browser software such as Mozilla and Opera. SSL VPNs allow access to desired network services that would otherwise not allow access without a traditional fat-VPN configuration (and the client that goes with it usually). These operate by creating a secure tunnel between your device and the UAG server and then funneling any data appropriate to the connection over the secure tunnel. as this technology utilizes SSL and HTTPS technology there are very few circumstances where it does not work.
Web portals are the most restricted of access methods, providing an interface to access a web application that is fronted by the UAG itself, so users are actually talking to UAG, and in most cases UAG talks to the back end servers on their behalf.
This allows IT to be a little more liberal with the devices they allow access to the portals, as the access is so limited, and provides access to the users that they desire, email, SharePoint, or whatever the corporation deems available.
These can be configured and customized to a high level, even presenting different portals to different sets of users to really fine grain the access to the system.