Opinion

I Can Read Clearly Now the Cloud Has Come (with Microsoft Active Directory Federated Services)

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Previously, the IT cloudscape has been seen as fantastically picturesque, offering fluffy, white services that promise immense benefits to businesses striving to reach financial gains by increasing efficiency. Do I see the same cloudscape today? The simple answer is “no.” 

Topics concerning the cloud continue to dictate corporate agendas and engender panic within the minds of senior executives that don’t want their business to become yesterday’s news for lack of a clear cloud strategy. Moreover, I’m sure recent negative press involving the cloud has made those “technology laggers” feel vindicated and continue to proffer a more conservative path by shunning the cloud for continued on-site models. 

So, does this development inevitably spell the start of a serial decline in cloud service usage? Absolutely not! This merely demonstrates the adoption and maturity life cycle that any new and innovative technology will face as it becomes an accepted and commonplace way of doing business. 

I’m sure that the future delivery of IT service architecture will remain unmoved by these current fears. IT professionals are increasingly signing up to the fact that they must adopt a risk-managed approach to consuming services. This applies to both software vendors’ products and their underlying infrastructure and will slowly turn today’s grey clouds back to those white, fluffy ones we once perceived. 

Get informed, be proactive — don’t be left behind 

Every day, my team talks to clients and prospects about data security, promoting UK government-certified encryption services that have their roots securely in the cloud. Due to the sheer size of this user pool, we are fortunate to be able to map trends as they emerge. 

What is becoming very clear is the irresistible shift towards Microsoft’s Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS). 

ADFS is a software product that Microsoft developed to be installed on the Windows Server operating system. It is designed to provide users with single sign-on access to the system and its applications located across organisational boundaries. To achieve this functionality, it utilises a claims-based access control authorisation model, maintaining application security whilst implementing a federated identity. 

In practice, ADFS uses on-site Active Directory to provide the identity that enables users to interact with other Web services and SMAL 2.0-compliant federation services (used by cloud providers), making sound, efficient use of their existing business username and password. 

For me, this points to one thing: The cloud and integration with cloud services will only become more preeminent. This will result in on-site and hosted worlds converging to the point where it will not be possible to easily define where the corporate boundary exists. 

Tony Pepper co-founded Egress Software Technologies in 2007 and currently serves as the chief executive officer for the company, overseeing all aspects of the business, driving worldwide sales and leading a global team to execute marketing and communications initiatives. Over the years, he has presented on a variety of data security-related issues and strategies for email and file encryption software, and secure large file transfer. 

 

 

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