Thursday, 18 February 2010

Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant (DCA) is Released!

Just a quick blog note to mention that Microsoft recently released the Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant (DCA) as part of the Windows Optimized Desktop Toolkit 2010 (WODT 2010).

The Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant (DCA) supports a DirectAccess client computer that is running Windows® 7 by clearly indicating the state of DirectAccess connectivity to corporate network resources. It provides easy access to troubleshooting information and makes it simple to create and send log files to support personnel.

Without the DCA, when a user’s Internet connection (for example, http://www.bing.com) appears to be available, but corporate network resources are not accessible, there is no way that the user can verify if the problem is caused by DirectAccess not working correctly. This can result in user frustration and increased Help Desk support calls. The DCA clearly indicates the operational status of DirectAccess by using an icon in the notification area and informational messages. This helps the user identify the problem area and helps direct troubleshooting efforts.

If DirectAccess is not working correctly, the DCA clearly indicates the status by changing the icon in the notification area and by sending informational messages that provide more detail about the failure. The DCA provides the user with easy access to an extranet URL. For example, this URL might point to a Web site that hosts support information for the organization’s user community. The user can easily send diagnostic log files to the DirectAccess support staff.

Now, this is a pretty cool tool that I have been waiting for, ever since I first got UAG DirectAccess up and running.

Once installed, a system icon is displayed which provides a real-time view of corporate connectivity as shown below:

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You can also configure a Support Link to direct users to a fallback portal or support extranet as shown below:

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You can generate an Advanced Diagnostics log from the system try icon:

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This includes an in-built Email Logs button to make log gathering easy for end-users.

You can select Prefer Local DNS Names from the system tray icon to disable DirectAccess name resolution and use whatever local name resolution is available to your client computers, as shown below:

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The tool requires configuration of Group Policy settings and full details can be found in the Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant Deployment Guide available from here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9A87EFE8-E254-4473-8A26-678ADEA6D9E9&displaylang=en

The deployment is pretty easy to setup, but just ask if you get stuck…

In my opinion, this tool is a must have for all DirectAccess deployments.

Download and install it today!!! :)