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Microsoft Releases ADFS 2.0

Microsoft has released Active Directory Federation Services 2.0, a key component of its effort to provide single sign-on federated identity management across enterprise domains and to cloud services.

At the same time, Microsoft has put the release of CardSpace 2.0 on hold, leaving some to wonder if the company is going in a different direction with regard to information identifiers.

The release of ADFS 2.0 on Wednesday was expected this week, as reported. ADFS 2.0, formerly known as Geneva Server, is Microsoft's long-awaited extension to Active Directory that provides claims-based federated identity management.

By adding ADFS 2.0 to an existing AD deployment, IT and development shops can allow individuals to login once to a Windows Server and then use their credentials to sign into any other identity-aware system or application.

Because ADFS 2.0 is already built into Microsoft's cloud-services portfolio --namely Business Productivity Services Online and Azure -- applications built for Windows Server can be ported to those services while maintaining the same levels of authentication and federated identity management.

"The bottom line is we are streamlining how access should work and how things like single sign-on should work from on-premises to the cloud," said John "J.G." Chirapurath, senior director in Microsoft's Identity and Security Business Group, in an interview last week.

But Microsoft last week also quietly announced that it was putting its CardSpaces 2.0 upgrade on hold. Though it had been in beta last year, Microsoft shifted gears in March with the release of its U-Prove information identifier.

"There's a lot going on in the information card space, especially when you consider cryptographic technologies like U-Prove, which we rolled out at RSA conference," says Joel Sider, a senior product manager in Microsoft's Forefront security group. "If you consider new standards like OpenID, there's a lot going on, and we want to address some of the new trends."

That begs the question: Is CardSpace 2.0 going to see the light of day? "There's certainly support for information cards; our involvement in information cards is alive and well," Sider says. Microsoft is not saying when it will update its CardsSpace 2.0 plans, but some are wondering whether the technology has a future.

CardSpace 2.0’s uncertain fate is "no surprise given its limited adoption," said Patrick Harding, CTO of Denver-based Ping Identity, a Microsoft partner and competitor. "Unfortunately, it has also really upset all of those people and companies that have bought into the InfoCard model at Microsoft's urging."

Microsoft says that ADFS 2.0 can be implemented atop AD without any schema extensions being necessary. While it needs to be installed on an instance of AD running on Windows Server 2008, Microsoft points out that organizations don't have to have all of their Active Directory instances up to the current release -- though they do need be on at least Windows Server 2003.

The download is available here.

 

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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