There has been a lot written about Microsoft Azure from a technical perspective, but many of our customers still struggle with the essential question of, “What can I do with Azure?” Sure, many know that websites can be staged in Azure or that virtual machines can be deployed in Azure. Beyond that, most folks have no idea what else Azure offers in terms of services or solutions. This post will challenge you to think of Azure as your data center – an extension of your on-premises services – without boundaries!
Let’s talk about the columns three and four of the Office 365 Login User Experience Matrix found below.
Active Directory Federation Services (“AD FS”) is most often mentioned as the solution for single sign-on. Authentication federation works because one service/resource provider trusts another identity provider to complete the authentication on their behalf. The lingua franca for federated identities on the Internet is the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) which is an XML-based, open standard. Active Directory Federation Services can interpret SAML which makes it an excellent bridge between the tens of thousands of SaaS (and other) applications and Active Directory Domain Services. As a role within Windows Server, AD FS is licensed by purchasing a Windows Server license and for most of you will be covered by your existing client access licenses (CALs).
In October 2012, Microsoft acquired StorSimple and since then, Microsoft has turned the product into a highly-integrated cloud-based storage system. It’s probably been mentioned to you once or twice by your Microsoft account team, but I wanted to give a quick overview of the product in case you missed it. Being a licensing specialist, I figured you might appreciate my translation of this technology into layman’s terms.
Let’s talk about the second column of the Office 365 Login User Experience Matrix found below. Based on my anecdotal feedback from customers, I would say at this point Microsoft Azure Active Directory for Single Sign-On (“Azure AD for SSO”) is an Azure feature that is not very well-known yet, but just happens to be exactly what many customers actually want, especially if they’re utilizing many SaaS apps. Azure AD for SSO has gone by several names in its short lifetime including, “Azure AD Applications” and “Application Access Enhancements,” so keep that in mind as you conduct a search. The Azure AD for SSO federation SaaS application makes it possible to not only have single sign-on with Office 365, but as of this post, 2,476 other applications including popular apps such as box.net, Concur, Dropbox for Business, Google Apps, Salesforce.com and ServiceNow. Better yet, for some SaaS apps, adding a new user to AD DS and flagging them a security group or with an attribute can also automatically provision or de-provision an account in that SaaS. Here’s a full, up-to-date list of the SaaS apps Azure AD for SSO supports.
Microsoft has officially announced that the release for its latest version of Windows will be July 29, 2015. The Windows 10 release date has been widely expected for the past month, but looking back at late 2014, it seemed like a pipe dream. Reports from December 2014 show expected launch dates for the OS to range from late-August to November 2015. This will be 20 months after Windows 8.1 was released, further emphasizing Microsoft’s commitment to quick releases of its OS. This is further underscored by announcements that the next version of Windows will drop numbering and naming altogether – hinting that Microsoft is moving towards a subscription model similar to its Office 365 and Azure product lines.
One question every customer who has Active Directory Domain Services asks during a migration from on-premises server to Office 365 is, “What is the login experience?” The short, consulting answer is: “It depends.” I have attempted to provide the longer answer in the remaining paragraphs of this post; however, to set the context, I’m going to give you a little background on the key variables that can impact the answers.
As more work is done on mobile devices that could fall into anyone’s hands, sensitive corporate data and documents must be appropriately protected. Companies must be diligent about securing devices, applications and content as users move from office to home, to airport to mall, to coffee shop and back again.
By now, most people are aware that Microsoft has entered the device market with the Surface line of tablets. The Microsoft Surface has become popular as a complete notebook replacement for many in the corporate realm. In 2014, Microsoft purchased the Devices and Services division of Nokia and this summer, they expect to release the first Lumia that is Microsoft branded. It’s clear that Microsoft is shifting to become a devices company, along with producing and shipping hardware with their latest operating system, Windows 10, which will officially launch in late 2015.
Early reports of unconfirmed Microsoft Client Access Licenses (CAL) price increases have abounded in the past half of a year. And, while we’ve all known they were coming, the details are often what is most important. Without further preamble, here are those details:
-Pricing on the User CAL increases by 13% over existing prices
-The increase takes effect on August 1st
-Prices will be released on July 1st (Microsoft always releases official pricing in the month prior to the effective date)
The first ever Microsoft Ignite conference is over. The expo hall is closed and the dust has begun to settle. With more than 20,000 attendees focusing across all major product lines, there was a lot to take in. I wanted to share a few points that stood out to me as points to consider in the coming months.