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Microsoft Azure AD Identity Solution – Part-1 !!!


Microsoft Identity as a Service (IDaaS) for Enterprise Architects

What IT architects need to know about designing Microsoft identity solution for customer while they deployed any public and private cloud (hybrid) with all types of cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

Introduction

Cloud computing and mobile devices have transformed the modern digital workplace and Identity is the key foundation of our digital transformation journey today. Most of the businesses today are following a “cloud first” strategy, with lifting & shifting their existing infra and business applications into hybrid cloud, modernizing their business apps and opting in as-a-service models.

While cloud services are easy to deploy and commonly come with modern end users experience but this shift to digital transformation also introduces the new challenges (such as security risk, administrative burden and poor end users experience). Even, it becomes more challenging during the current covid-19 pandemic situation where most of businesses are opting in “work from home” to access their hosting applications in hybrid clouds.

Due to the nature of the business (i.e. manufacturing, utility, infrastructure, automotive etc.) and its gradual transition, the reality of most businesses will remain hybrid for many years, even if the enterprise’s workloads are moved into partners dc called “private cloud”, it’s still about running their legacy IT landscape and business apps on on-premises, alongside all the new SaaS services deployed in multi-tenant public clouds.

From the end user’s experience and IT/IS perspective, users must access their applications in both on-premises and cloud, and IT/IS must manage and protect applications in both places. Altogether with the shift to new way of working such as “work from home”, there is a need for providing a consistent end users experience, safeguarding the end users’ identities and management of hybrid cloud environment.

Providing seamless access and integration with wide range of legacy apps and modern SaaS service is the biggest challenge. So, enabling the single sign-on to modern SaaS services is just a simple part but the real challenge is supporting full range of services within multi-cloud hybrid environments. Even though various vendors offer their respective identity as service solution (such as Oracle, IBM, Google, Octa, CA, Ping Identity and so on.) but we will focus on Microsoft identity solution in this article in more detail.

Microsoft offers Azure AD – cloud-based Identity as a Service (IDaaS) and that comes with a comprehensive approach and single control pane of providing seamless access to users for all types of apps – SaaS, on-premises and custom-built apps.

The below figure depicts the detailed features of Azure Active Directory and their functionalities such as on-premises infra integration, user accounts, devices, partner collaboration with customer account management, application integration and administration.

Figure-1: Azure AD Identity as a Service (IDaaS) Solution

Integrating Azure AD identity with Azure, AWS and GCP Hybrid Cloud

Azure AD integration with hybrid cloud provides a broad range of capabilities for business, the capabilities include but not limited to the following:

Azure identity solutions address challenges like safeguarding identities, improve user experience accessing applications seamlessly across platforms, and increasing administrative efficiency

One identity for all applications across cloud services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) across all cloud platforms such as Azure, AWS, Google etc.

Collaboration with partners by using Azure AD B2B and B2C

Synchronization or federation with on-premises directory through Azure AD connect

Enables single sign-on and multi-factor authentication

Integration with web-based applications located on-premises through application proxy

Use either Azure AD domain services (Azure AD DS) for authenticating to line of business (LOB) applications hosted on virtual machines in Azure IaaS or extend on-premises active directory domain service (AD DS) to Azure IaaS

Azure identity provides cloud apps discovery and management through Azure AD ‘MyApps’ panel as single control pane

Below figure shows the Azure AD integration with hybrid cloud respectively Azure, AWS and Google:

Figure-2: Azure AD integration with Azure hybrid cloud
Figure-3: Azure AD IdP Federation with AWS Cloud Apps
Figure-4: Azure AD Federation with GCP Cloud

Rajeev Ujjwal has more than 18 years of transformation delivery experience in cloud computing, infrastructure, directory service, and cyber security with larger global customers. He is a senior cloud consultant and successfully delivered various kind of global project delivery such as greenfield, consolidation, separation and migration.

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