Home > Active Directory (AD), All, Azure, Security > #Windows #Azure Active Directory steps out of the shadows

#Windows #Azure Active Directory steps out of the shadows

I’ve blogged about this release before with some info but here is another good article about how it can assist you in managing user authentication in the cloud.

Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Windows Azure Active Directory, a cloud-based service that lets admins manage multiple user identities and access. Although it’s been lurking in the background of other Microsoft products for some time — and still requires work to make it a fully useful tool — it’s a step in the right direction.

At its core, Windows Azure Active Directory is essentially a copy of Active Directory held in the cloud that provides basic authorization and authentication when users access cloud services. Ideally, admins use it to centralize the database of authorized users for cloud services, which then lets them authorize employees and contractors to work in certain applications. This allowance includes both Microsoft and third-party applications that accept authentication through common industry standards.

Through synchronization with an on-premises Active Directory deployment, you can also deploy single sign-on, so users don’t have to remember multiple passwords or enter them more than once to access cloud applications. More importantly, it provides a better way to remove access to cloud services for users who have left the company — a previous weak link in the cloud identity management story.

Windows Azure Active Directory: Not exactly new

True to Microsoft’s history of dogfooding its own products, Windows Azure Active Directory had been in use for nearly a year before its current general release. Few actually knew that all Office 365 accounts have been using a preview release of Windows Azure Active Directory for some time. Users of the general Windows Azure service, Dynamics CRM andWindows Intune also have their details stored in private Windows Azure Active Directory accounts.

According to Microsoft, since just after the beginning of the 2013 calendar year, “Windows Azure AD has processed over 65 billion authentication requests while maintaining 99.97% or better monthly availability.” Windows Azure Active Directory is a distributed service running across 14 of Microsoft’s data centers all over the globe.

User interface improvements

One improvement that happened between the preview release of Windows Azure Active Directory and the Web version release is the user interface, which was basically nonexistent before. Now you can access a clean section of the modern-looking Windows Azure control panel to create and manage instances of Windows Azure Active Directory (Figure 1).

Create and manage instances of Windows Azure Active Directory

You can add these instances to your Windows Azure subscription by logging into your Microsoft account, which…

Continue reading here!

//Richard

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