One of the more interesting things to come out of the recent PDC conference (for me at least) was the work MS has been doing around identity in the cloud. It’s always looked like a bit of a stumbling block for the adoption of cloud services, especially for enterprises where simple user interfaces and single sign-on have been a focus for years.
The main points that I picked up on were:
The Microsoft Federation Gateway – provides an identity and federation gateway into MS provided/hosted services including Azure and Live ID.
The Microsoft Services Connector – allows you to federate your Active Directory with MS to gain access to services hosted in their cloud.
‘Geneva’ Server – a standards based Security Token Service that allows federation between your AD and any other claims based service (including the MS hosted services)
Those are massive simplifications of course.
Brought together these services and solutions could make life much easier for a lot of people.
– As an Enterprise we would be able to provide services from an Azure platform without any worry about authentication or identity. Whether that be hosted Exchange, SharePoint, or just some internally developed apps the existing AD and it’s accounts can be used.
– ISV’s can provide solutions knowing that they’ll never have to worry about managing accounts and passwords for people. No need to worry about password resets – the customer will deal with that for you. Selling a license to a company? No need to worry about employees leaving and still having access – the customer will remove their accounts anyway (well it depends who they are selling to I guess, but you get the idea).
– As an end user my work username and password will get me seamless access to my work systems, and my personal ID (whether LiveID or OpenID) will work on more sites, so less accounts and passwords to remember.
I’ve just been watching this session on the ‘Identity Roadmap for Software + Services‘ over on the PDC site. It gives are really good overview of what’s being planned and demo’s some scenarios where these new services might help. It’s well worth a look.