12 July 2007

Exposing TFS with the Hamachi VPN

I am currently working on a project that has developers distributes across two sites.  We wanted to make use of Team Foundation Server but didn't want to expose the server to the "world".  There are a couple of options available to us and we chose to go down the VPN route for two main reasons:

  1. Cost - by utilizing the LogMeIn Hamachi VPN (more on that in a minute) we had to spend only $39 rather than the hundreds of dollars an SSL certificate would have cost us.
  2. Ease - setting up the VPN was very simple - both on the server as well as the client.

What is the LogMeIn Hamachi VPN you might ask?  Here's what they have to say on their web site:

LogMeIn Hamachi is a VPN service that easily sets up in 10 minutes, and enables secure remote access to your business network, anywhere there's an Internet connection.

It works with your existing firewall, and requires no additional configuration. Hamachi is the first networking application to deliver an unprecedented level of direct peer-to-peer connectivity. It is simple, secure, and cost-effective.

Once I downloaded and installed the VPN software it took me less than 10 minutes (as advertised) to get everything setup and running.  Once I had the VPN configured on the Team Foundation Server machine, an external developer installed the same software on his machine and was accessing TFS within a few minutes.

We did run into one snag during our initial setup.  The external developer noticed that he could access documents via SharePoint but little red X's were appearing next to the Documents and Reports folders in Team Explorer.  It turned out to be a name resolution problem.  He just added the TFS machine name to his hosts file (along with the server's IP address) and everything was good-to-go.

Regarding the $39 that we spent on the software... there is a free version of the software that we initially used to get everything setup and working.  However, the free version does not run as a Windows Service so we had to have an active session on the TFS server during our initial testing.  Once we determined the VPN would work for us, we spent the $39 to upgrade which let us switch to a Windows Service configuration with a single click.

So, if you're looking for a simple, quick, and inexpensive solution for exposing your Team Foundation Server securely, you may want to check the LogMeIn Hamachi VPN out.