VMware hooks corporate identities into the cloud

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VMware hooks corporate identities into the cloud

Single sign-on for SaaS using Active Directory.

VMware has launched software that allows IT administrators to manage end-user access to SaaS applications using commonly-deployed identity management tools.

Dubbed VMware Horizon App Manager, it is the first product of VMware's ‘Project Horizon’ – the vendor’s effort to profit from both the proliferation of a wild variety of end user devices and the delivery of software over the internet.

The tool allows administrators to offer corporate users a web-based catalogue of SaaS solutions, accessible via single sign-on identity information stored within Microsoft Active Directory and other directory services used behind the firewall.

It thus allows administrators to retain control of use of multiple SaaS accounts without having to create new identity profiles for each user in the company.

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The Horizon App Manager requires CIOs to purchase and deploy a lightweight virtual appliance in their data centre called an “enterprise connector”.

The connector links the company’s directory services to a VMware-hosted service called the “Horizon Cloud Identity Hub”, which “acts as a trust intermediary” to manage authentication with multiple SaaS providers.

VMware said Google Apps, Box.net, VMware Zimbra and SlideRocket, BroadVision, WebEx, Salesforce.com and Workday were the first SaaS providers to come pre-integrated with the service.

VMware end user virtualisation advocate David Wakeman said the software used open standards such as O-AUTH and SAML (security assertion mark-up language) to manage the authentication process.

While the solution primarily targets Active Directory users, Wakeman said other directory services would be brought online over time. From day one, the software also works with any directory services using OpenLDAP, which is favoured by the likes of Google and HP.

The service is priced at US$30 ($28) per user per year for unlimited applications.

Wakeman said VMware would update the software just as a SaaS provider would – offering authentication hooks into more applications and directory services in a regular release cycle.

He said competing solutions attempting to bring structure and discipline to corporate use of public cloud solutions cost “in the tens to hundreds of thousands.”

“This isn’t trying to be a complete management solution,” he said. “It only takes an hour of set-up.

“This works best for companies with two or three apps that are delivered over the internet – its lightweight and secure to implement, but solves the issue of user access rights.

"It also solves the problem of who has access to your SaaS-based corporate apps when staff leave the organisation.”

That said, over time VMware intends to build in the ability to provision Windows applications through the same management tool.

“In the future, this could be the one portal for all your corporate applications,” he said.

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