Office 365 and Identity

imageMicrosoft has provided more details about Office 365 and the different identity options in a service description document (link at the bottom of this post).

There are two types of identities:

  • Cloud Identity: credentials are separate from your corporate credentials
  • Federated Identity: users can sign in with their corporate Active Directory credentials

With BPOS, there was only one type: cloud identity. Users had to logon using a Sign-In Assistant that stored the cloud credentials (name and password) and used those credentials to sign in in the background. For larger organizations, the Sign-In Assistant was a pain to install and manage so it’s a good thing it is going away.

With the new identity solution, as stated above, the Sign-In Assistant goes away and the logon experience is determined by the type of identity and how you access the service. The table below summarizes the sign-in experience:

image

1 The password can be saved to avoid continuous prompting
2 During the beta, with Federated IDs, you will be prompted when first accessing the services
3 Outlook 2007 will be updated to give the same experience as Outlook 2010

Note that it is required to install some components and updates on user’s workstations if rich clients are used to access Office 365. Although you can manually install these updates, the Office 365 Desktop Setup package does all that is needed. Office 365 Desktop Setup was formerly called the Microsoft Online Services Connector. Office 365 Desktop Setup supports Windows XP (SP2) and higher.

A couple of other things that are good to know:

  • Office 365 supports two-factor authentication if you implement SSO with Active Directory Federation Services 2.0. There are two options to enforce two-factor auth: on the ADFS 2.0 proxy logon page or at the ForeFront UAG SP1 level.
  • Active Directory synchronization is supported with the Microsoft Online Services Directory Synchronization tool. The tool is basically the same as with BPOS although there are some changes to support new features: security group replication, write back (which also enables some extra features), etc…
  • Note that the synchronization tool still does not support multiple forests.
  • The synchronization tool is required in migration scenarios like rich coexistence, simple coexistence and staged migration with simple coexistence.

The full details can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. If you are involved in Office 365 projects, this is considered required reading!

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