Microsoft readies free cloud Active Directory service

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Microsoft readies free cloud Active Directory service

Launches to public.

Microsoft today announced general availability of the cloud version of its identity and access management system, Active Directory.

The REST-based Windows Azure Active Directory allows for single sign-ons for cloud apps, federation and access to services for third-parties and staff authentication for line of business apps, among other things.

Windows Azure Active Directory can be managed via command-line, using downloadable Powershell scripts called cmdlets. Alternatively, administrators can use the Windows Azure Management, Active Directory, Intune and Office 365 Portals to manage tenants in the authentication system. 

The system uses standards-based Security Assertion Markup Langague (SAML), the OData open data protocol and the WS-Federation model between identity providers and consumers.

As a result, Windows Azure Active Directory works with any modern browser running on PCs, tablets or mobile devices, and can be integrated into Microsoft and third-party applications, according to the company.

Before being marked as production-ready, Microsoft said Windows Azure AD processed over 65 billion authentication requests with 99.7 per cent or better availability. These figures have not been audited by third parties.

Active Directory support is not yet fully available across the entire Windows Azure suite of products such as SQL Database, but can be used for Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Windows Intune authentication.

Microsoft previously charged for Active Directory based on the number of transactions, but AD access control, base directory, tenant, user and group management and other features are now free. Rights Management is priced separately.

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