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Amazon Releases Active Directory Gateway to its Cloud

Amazon Web Services has released a new cloud-based identity management solution this week.

The AWS Directory Service lets organizations give users credentialed access to applications in the AWS cloud either by integrating with their existing Microsoft Active Directory or by creating a standalone cloud-based directory.

Active Directory integration is enabled using AWS' AD Connector, which "enables you to easily connect your existing Microsoft Active Directory to the AWS Cloud without requiring complex directory synchronization technologies and avoiding the cost and complexity of hosting a SAML-based federation infrastructure," according to a product FAQ. It uses Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud and either an on-premises VPN connection or a dedicated AWS Direct Connect link to perform directory requests.

Pricing for AD Connector directories varies by region, but can be as low as $0.05 per hour for the small size (designed for directories with up to 10,000 users and other objects) and as high as $0.15 per hour for the large size (for directories with up to 100,000 users and other objects).

For organizations that do not have an existing Active Directory, AWS offers the "Simple AD" option -- effectively setting the course for direct competition with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, the cloud-based counterpart of the on-premises Active Directory.

A Simple AD directory is a cloud-based managed directory that runs on the Samba 4 Active Directory Compatible Server. It supports many Active Directory features, including "users, group memberships, domain-joining Amazon EC2 instances running Windows, Kerberos-based SSO, and Group Policies," according to AWS.

AWS evangelist Jeff Barr, who provided a guide to setting up AD Connector and Simple AD directories in this blog post, said that either directory type only takes minutes to set up.

Simple AD directories accommodate fewer directory objects than the AD Connector option -- up to 1,000 for the small size and 10,000 for the large. Pricing also starts at $0.05 per hour for small, and goes up to $0.15 per hour for large.

Both directory types are available for AWS datacenters in North Virginia, Oregon, Ireland, Sydney and Tokyo, with more regions to be added in the future. Region-based pricing information is available here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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