The virtual private network (VPN) technology included in Windows Server 2003 helps enable cost-effective, secure remote access to private networks. VPN allows administrators to take advantage of the Internet to help provide the functionality and security of private WAN connections at a lower cost. In Windows Server 2003, VPN is enabled using the Routing and Remote Access service. VPN is part of a comprehensive network access solution that includes support for authentication and authorization services, and advanced network security technologies.There are two main strategies that help provide secure connectivity between private networks and enabling network access for remote users.

Dial-up or leased line connections

A dial-up or leased line connection creates a physical connection to a port on a remote access server on a private network. However, using dial-up or leased lines to provide network access is expensive when compared to the cost of providing network access using a VPN connection.

VPN connections

VPN connections use either Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) or Layer Two Tunneling Protocol/Internet Protocol security (L2TP/IPSec) over an intermediate network, such as the Internet. By using the Internet as a connection medium, VPN saves the cost of long-distance phone service and hardware costs associated with using dial-up or leased line connections. A VPN solution includes advanced security technologies such as data encryption, authentication, authorization, and Network Access Quarantine Control.


Network Access Quarantine Control is used to delay remote access to a private network until the configuration of the remote access computer has been examined and validated.
Using VPN, administrators can connect remote or mobile workers (VPN clients) to private networks. Remote users can work as if their computers are physically connected to the network. To accomplish this, VPN clients can use a Connection Manager profile to initiate a connection to a VPN server. The VPN server can communicate with an Internet Authentication Service (IAS) server to authenticate and authorize a user session and maintain the connection until it is terminated by the VPN client or by the VPN server. All services typically available to a LAN-connected client (including file and print sharing, Web server access, and messaging) are enabled by VPN. VPN clients can use standard tools to access resources. For example, clients can use Windows Explorer to make drive connections and to connect to printers. Connections are persistent: Users do not need to reconnect to network resources during their VPN sessions. Because drive letters and universal naming convention (UNC) names are fully supported by VPN, most commercial and custom applications work without modification.