Now that UAG beta 2 is available to everyone, you have the chance to start kicking the tires on Microsoft’s new unified inbound access gateway. I’ve been doing that over here in the Shinder labs and really like what I’m seeing. I should have some of the details available to you soon on this site, so check your RSS feeds every Tuesday.
A post on the UAG Team blog got me to thinking about how we think about new technologies in general. When we test new solutions, like the UAG, we work on installation requirements, configuration options, and supporting network infrastructure. One thing that almost seems like an afterthought is what the end-user experience is like.
Given that IT now must be a business enabler, and not a cost-center as it used to be treated as in the past, we should start thinking about the end-user and the end user experience.
Why? Because IT’s main job is to help the end-user get things done faster, easier, and from anywhere at anytime. IT is tasked with the job of increasing end-user productivity because it’s the user, and not us, who represents the most critical link in the chain that leads to profits.
Don’t underestimate the value of productivity. The reason why we’re in a world wide economic slump is because business activity was driven by unsustainable levels of debt. Now we’re living in a reset world where debt can’t be used to drive the business. I think the new model that’ll replace debt is going to be in the realm of increasing productivity.
That’s where IT comes in, and it’s something that we can feel good about since of all the ways that businesses can increase productivity, IT is the most likely to be the way to accomplish new productivity goals.
That’s why UAG is so important to a successful business. UAG increases productivity by:
- Supporting DirectAccess, so that productivity enhancements baked into your manage client infrastructure are transparently delivered to all your end-users
- Supporting Terminal Services Gateway. I’ve been remiss in UAG’s integrated support for TSG. TSG allows your users to access terminal servers and remote desktop clients from anywhere, at any time, over the “universal firewall port”, TCP 443. UAG makes it easy to consolidate all the moving parts in a TSG deployment and significantly reduces your installation and management overhead
- Supporting Advanced Security for Web Publishing. If your Web sites get hacked because of lack of edge security, your users aren’t going to be very productive. UAG helps reduce the chances of that happening by employing state of the art application layer inspection at the edge; in fact, UAG’s approach to application layer inspection for reverse Web proxy scenarios is the best available in the SSL VPN space today.
- Supporting SSTP VPN. Even if your users are running Windows 7, they can still connect to what they need by using SSTP. SSTP is built right into Windows Vista, so you don’t need to add to your management and troubleshooting overhead by deploying a 3rd party network level SSL VPN client.
- Supporting multiple operating systems, devices and browsers. UAG provides a superior end-user experience regardless of what operating system, browser or device they use when connecting to resources behind the UAG. This expanded support allows users to connect from more devices than ever before in order to get their work done, which makes them more productive.
There’s a lot more good things I can say about the UAG, and you’ll see plenty of examples of those here in the future. The point is that when doing your day to day work, keep in mind that your responsibility as an IT admin is to enhance your users’ productivity. Anything you can do along these lines will help your company move away from yesterday’s debt driven business model to a new and improved productivity driven model.
Thomas W Shinder, M.D., MCSE
Sr. Consultant / Technical Writer