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Microsoft Previews Active Directory Schema Extension for Windows Azure

Microsoft has rolled out a new custom schema extension capability for the Windows Azure Active Directory identity management service.

The Windows Azure Active Directory custom schema extension capability is currently at the "preview" stage. Application developers can use the extensions with their apps to more easily tap external Windows Azure Active Directory user profile information. However, the news also is relevant for IT pros. The custom schema extensions are part of Microsoft's plan of "bringing [premises-based] AD and [cloud-based Windows] Azure AD together," according to Alex Simons, director of program management on the Active Directory team, in a blog post today.

Microsoft designed the schema extension capability with two goals, Simons explained. The first goal is to help independent software developers build applications that are directory aware. Next, Microsoft wants to make it easier for organizations to "move their applications to the cloud."

Today's release mostly furthers the first goal for developers. However, Microsoft is moving ahead with the second goal by integrating the schema extension capability into its DirSync and Forefront Identity Manager tools. Those integrations will "enable easy synchronization of custom schema extensions between on-premises AD and [Windows] Azure AD," Simons explained. He didn't say when that integration might occur.

The schema extension capability is based on Windows Azure Active Directory Graph technology, which supports a REST-based API for developers. The REST-based API can be used to define the properties of the external Windows Azure Active Directory store, allowing applications to use those properties. The schema extension capability is currently based on Microsoft's Graph API 1.21 preview technology.

Microsoft has released C# and PHP code samples at the GitHub repository for developer review. A more detailed explanation about the schema extension capability can be found at this MSDN blog post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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