Windows Azure Offers Active Directory in General Availability

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Microsoft announced Tuesday via the Windows Azure blog that its cloud based identity and access management solution, Windows Azure Active Directory, is now being offered for general availability and production use.

The move comes a few weeks after Microsoft acquired MetricsHub, which is now offering all Windows Azure cloud customers its premium product for free through the Windows Azure Store.

The company says that over “2.9 million businesses, government bodies and schools” are already using Windows Azure Active Directory to manage access to Office365, Dynamics CRM online, Windows Intune and Windows Azure.

Windows Azure AD is a “cloud based Identity Service built to support global scale, reliability and availability for our customers and comes at no cost for the base directory,” according to the blog post.

The cloud based directory lets users manage employee access to cloud based line-of-business apps, Microsoft cloud services and third party SaaS applications.

Using the tool, users can deliver a single sign-On experience for cloud applications, eliminate the need for multiple usernames and passwords and limit helpdesk calls and password resets, revoke access to cloud based business applications, and manage federation and access to cloud facing services for partners and customers.

Microsoft is operating the enterprise grade, high availability cloud service from 14 data centers across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Windows Azure AD appears to be in high demand, as Microsoft has processed over 65 billion authentication requests while maintaining 99.97 percent or better monthly availability, over the last 90 days.

The identity service is a logical extension for enabling existing identities in the cloud companies that are already running Windows Server Active Directory on-premises.
Based on open standards including SAML, OData and WS-FED, Windows Azure AD works with any modern browsers running on a PC, tablet or mobile device and can be easily integrated into applications running on a multitude of platforms from Microsoft and 3rd parties.

By offering Windows Azure AD for production usage, Microsoft has also made two key improvements, including the ability to add a Windows Azure Active Directory to their Azure subscription for customers who use Microsoft accounts for logging into Azure, and simplifying the process of granting and revoking application director access permissions.

Microsoft has also improved its samples and developer documentation with updates to the application registration process, all of which can be viewed on the Windows Azure website.

Users can now try out Windows Azure AD cloud directory by signing up for a Windows Azure Trial.

Microsoft announced in November that there areĀ 50 million active user accounts on Windows Azure.

Talk back: Are you currently a Windows Azure customer? Are you excited about Windows Azure Active Directory? Let us know in a comment.

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