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Windows Azure Active Directory Getting No-Cost Enhancements

Microsoft this week announced that it will release some of its Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) enhancements before year's end at no extra cost.

WAAD hit general availability release status in April, but Microsoft has various Windows Azure add-on projects (such as BizTalk Services, Backup and Cache) that are mostly still at the preview stage in various categories, as listed here. WAAD is a free service, according to Microsoft's pricing details page, but not all Windows Azure add-ons will be free. For instance, the Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication service that rolled out last month costs $2 per user (or per authentication), billed on a monthly basis.

In a blog post this week by Alex Simons, director of program management for Microsoft's Active Directory team, Microsoft listed five new "application access" enhancements to WAAD that will be offered for free:

  • Single sign-on for apps in the Windows Azure app gallery. There's no surprise here as Microsoft previously announced that this "preintegrated" single sign-on support for hosted applications would be offered at no charge. The gallery currently supports 227 services, including hosted solutions such as Dropbox, Gmail, and Salesforce.com, among others.
  • Application access controls. IT pros can assign who has access to hosted apps.
  • User provisioning. Microsoft is currently working with software vendors to enable the automatic provisioning of hosted app access.
  • Security reporting. Microsoft is adding an access reporting capability that shows app use, as well as "unusual patterns." An example of unusual pattern might be a user logging in from multiple locations concurrently.
  • Application Access Panel. This portal is a single place for users to launch applications or change their passwords and other settings.

These five free application access enhancements will be generally available for use with WAAS by the end of 2013, according to Alex Simons, director of program management for Microsoft's Active Directory team.

Simons suggested that WAAD use was growing. He cited 430 billion user authentications, which was "up 43% from June." Back then, Microsoft had said WAAD had processed "265 billion authentication requests from around the world."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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