Synchronising passwords with Office 365

I have some exciting news!

One of the most popular features of Live@edu, from a “techy” perspective, was the ability to synchronise the passwords from your local AD user accounts into the cloud using the Password Change Notification Service (PCNS). This was a great way to provide a consistent sign-in experience to users since their password would always be the same in both their AD account and their email account – simple!

In Office 365 we introduced the ability to have federated authentication using ADFS – this gave institutions a more flexible solution for managing authentication for their users, and allowed a true single sign-on implementation for users. One username, one password.

Of course, as awesome as ADFS is to have, it does sometimes require institutions to deploy extra hardware, and that can mean extra cost. At a time when schools, colleges and universities across the UK are being driven hard to reduce costs and be more efficient with their spending it can often be a challenge to make a highly available and robust ADFS infrastructure a reality.

Connect Windows Server AD to Windows Azure AD

Yesterday Alex Simmons, director of program management, posted up on the Active Directory Team Blog:

I'm happy to let you know that as of last Friday (5/31) we've made it dead simple to connect AD to Azure AD, enabling users to log into Office 365, Windows Azure and any other cloud app integrated with Windows Azure AD using their on-premise username and password.  We've done this by updating Windows Azure Active Directory Sync Agent (a.k.a. DirSync) adding the ability to sync hashes of users' on-premise AD passwords into Windows Azure AD. 

Tool available now!

You can download the new version of DirSync from TechNet or via the Office 365 portal today. My colleague Mark Garcia, over on the US education cloud blog, has posted up a great FAQ all about the new version with a screenshot guide of how to replace your existing DirSync version with the new one!

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