Introducing Windows Azure Active Directory (AD) – Web Single Sign-on (SSO)

Modern software systems rarely operate in an unconnected closed environment.  Today’s systems might be connected to partners and customers through a variety devices and networks.  To support these systems, we need the ability to identify users of the software, data and systems.

A week or so ago we introduced some of the concepts through the work of Kim Cameron and John Shewchuk.  They describe the social enterprise and the facilities needed to support distributed identity management.  A healthy debate ensued but it doesn’t stop there.

This week the topic gets more fined grained as we introduce some of the technology.  Earlier today the Windows Azure team posted “Announcing the Developer Preview of Windows Azure Active Directory” on their blog.  The information there is valuable for both developers and information technology professionals.

Developers love to brag that their software is needed so IT Pros will have a job.  IT Professionals like to remind developers they make the software look good by running it on their hardware.  It ends up being a fun virtual team though many of us wear both hats.

The interesting aspect of the this preview is that it straddles both camps.  As you know, software must be managed and secure.  There are overlay functions.  Developers must understand the services that are available for identifying a user of the application or data. IT Professionals must learn how the traditional directory is changing and expanding. 

Depicts key features


Be sure to checkout the examples of how to use Single Sign-On and some of the other application programming interfaces in the preview.  There is an expense reporting application to demonstrate the new services. The application source code and documentation is provided.  Kicking the tires on this application will be beneficial for both developers and IT Pros.

Learning about the Graph API and Web Single Sign-On couldn’t be easier.  Read through “Announcing the Developer Preview of Windows Azure Active Directory” and follow the links to the preview code and samples.

Information technology professionals can explore the samples and get a feel for the security and management implications.  They should also spend some time in the Windows Azure Active Directory Graph content.  Certainly the Overview will be a good read and foundation for the topic. There’s more to come, but in the meantime enjoy this preview and let us know what you think!