In this day and age, cloud services can no longer be considered a niche product. We have officially moved into a realm where the public and hybrid cloud are essential tools for any modern business. Today’s world demands standardization across platforms, fast performance, and scalability of all services. Cloud delivers those capabilities – and it’s hard to imagine going back to a time when that functionality wasn’t there. Whether your main focus is the end users who work within your organization or the clients who drive your bottom line, you simply cannot run a successful business without enabling easy access to your apps and services.
With 57% of Fortune 500 companies already using Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to see the value of a powerful cloud computing platform. Azure offers cost savings, increased agility, and the ability to integrate on-premises apps and data. Providing users with they access they need – when they need it – is what makes the cloud such an incredible tool. That ease of access is also what makes managing user identities (both internal and external) such a critical component of any effective, secure cloud solution. However, true enterprise level cloud identities have not been something Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory could support – until now, that is.
As a little bit of background for those unfamiliar with Azure Active Directory, its most robust features (available through the Premium Product) are very powerful in the cloud application realm. These features have been centered around federation with on-premise Active Directory forests. In a world of burgeoning cloud application footprint, it’s a very powerful tool. For large-scale enterprise deployments, however, this type of feature set never really “cut the mustard,” as they say. But don’t “86 the mayo” in terms of Azure AD just yet (excuse the condiment puns). Microsoft is announcing some big features on the horizon that will transform how you look at the power of cloud identity. Imagine a world where Azure Active Directory could replace your on-premise Active Directory and Domain Infrastructure. We aren’t as far away from this world as you might think.
Soon, domain architects and identity admins will have access to a new service for their Azure Active Directory identities. It’s called Azure Domain Services, and it will allow your organization to host its domain services in Azure’s Active Directory Service. This provides the ability to securely conduct remote and cloud authentication to your domain services without the need to create firewalls or VPN infrastructures that can negatively impact performance. Another impressive benefit is the functionality for Windows 10 devices to use the Windows Domain Join feature to remotely connect to these services – with group policy control available, nonetheless – paving the way for your entire infrastructure to be hosted in the cloud.
With these identity controls being shifted to the cloud, you might be wondering what Microsoft’s plans are for self-provisioned access to your public-facing applications and services. Have no fear! Your IT staff and Web developers can create login and authentication scripts, automatically creating identities for your customers to quickly access your services and merchandise. This is an availability that your business cannot afford to lose, and fortunately you don’t need to worry about going without.
Another new Azure feature that may transform the way you look at Azure Active Directory is the business to customer service (ADB2C). With Azure ADB2C layered on top of your applications and Web services, incoming customers and traffic have the ability to self-provision their own identity within your domain. The API to automatically federate with existing public cloud applications will come pre-built into this service, requiring absolutely no additional setup by your Web developers.
Thanks to these new features (Azure ADB2C and Azure Domain Services), your cloud and on-premise services can take full advantage of the enterprise-ready security and scalability of Microsoft Azure’s global public cloud. This next evolution of your cloud-enabled environment will help deliver the access to applications and data that your users need – and the control and security IT requires to protect your organization.
As your National Solutions Provider, Connection is ready to help you take the guesswork and confusion out of these new and exciting services. Reach out to an Account Manager and ask to speak to a member of our Microsoft Center of Excellence today.