Archive for the ‘Synchronization’ Category

Virtual Identity Server for Office 365

May 5, 2012

If you are thinking of going to the cloud you may want to take a look at our new offering at Optimal IdM (Virtual Identity Server for Office 365).  A quick look at some of the features and benefits are below:

  • Fast and easy multi-forest support (no changes needed to any of your data in AD)
  • Firewall for your LDAP
  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Multi-Authentication Types (Windows Integrated, Client Cert, DoD CAC, SSO, and more)
  • Non-Routable UPN support (again, no changes needed to any of your data in AD)
  • Auditing
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
  • Support for desktop clients (Lync & Outlook) as well as all web apps (Portal, OWA & Lync web)
  • Support for provisioning and synchronization including and filtering of what data goes to the cloud
  • and much more…
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Extending ADFS to Multiple Identity and Attribute Stores (Part 1 of 2: The Basics)

April 17, 2012

There is much discussion these days about Active Directory Federation Services 2.0  (ADFS) and the out-of-the-box support of identity and attribute data other than Active Directory (AD).  In this blog (part 1 of 2), I plan to cover the basics of extending ADFS using the Microsoft Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) components.  In part 2 of 2, I will cover some of the more important questions that should be asked prior to setting out to build your own Identity Provider (IdP) / Security Token Service (STS) or Attribute store vs. purchasing a supported solution from a 3rd party vendor.

Currently ADFS only supports (out-of-the-box), authentication (identity information) and authorization (attribute/claim information), directly from Active Directory (AD).  However, what many people are missing is the fact that ADFS does ship with a Framework (WIF) to extend ADFS to meet just about any need you may have for both authentication and authorization.

If your identity information is located in a store other than AD, you can choose to build your own IdP/STS for authentication from the framework provided or purchase one from 3rd party vendor that is formerly supported such as the Optimal IdM Federated Services product.  If you are looking to augment the claim information with attribute data that is located in a store other than AD/AD-LDS or SQL, you can choose to build your own Attribute store for authorization which is a pluggable module in ADFS or again, purchase one from a 3rd party vendor.  The Optimal IdM Federated Services product also includes a pluggable attribute store module that can surface attribute/claims from many different stores including nearly every LDAP on the market (ADAM, AD-LDS, Sun, Oracle, eDirectory, Open LDAP, OpenDS, etc.)  as well as most databases (SQL, Oracle, DB2, etc.).

Writing your own IdP/STS or Attribute store, isn’t extremely difficult, however, you need to first determine what features are most important to your organization prior to setting out to write your own.  Here are just some of the features that are included in the Optimal IdM Federated Services product and commonly used by many of Optimal IdM’s customers and should be considered:

  • Authenticate users from multiple AD forests without any forest level trusts in place
  • Authenticate users from many different backend systems (AD, ADAM, AD-LDS, Sun, Oracle, eDirectory, Open LDAP, OpenDS, etc.)
  • Authentication methods such as traditional forms-based, Windows Integrated, client digital certificates, DoD CAC cards, 2-factor  (Keep in mind that ADFS only support user/pwd and Windows Integrated Authentication out-of-the-box)
  • SSO support for existing IdM systems via header variables or cookie based solutions
  • OpenID Integration
  • Denial of Service (DoS) prevention
  • Proxy capabilities
  • Load-Balancing & Failover on front end web and backend data stores
  • Assertion Encryption
  • Audit logging of assertion and claim/attribute information
  • Federated Sign-out
  • Change Password & Forgot Password (Self-Service Password Reset)
  • Built-in connection pooling and performance optimizations for high-volume usage
  • Virtual Attributes & data translations/filtering
  • Passive & Active Profile
  • Office 365 integration including synchronization of on premise identities to the cloud and federated login with client applications (Lync, SharePoint, Outlook, etc.)

In Part 2 of 2, I will discuss the key questions that should be asked before embarking on the build vs. buy scenario for extending ADFS.

When to Synchronize, Virtualize and Federate data in the Enterprise

April 14, 2010

Another Managing Partner at Optimal IdM, Mike Brengs, posted a new blog today that has truly been a sore topic for some folks.   The topic is centered on when companies should consider using one technology over another, in this case, when to synchronize, when to virtualize and when to federate data within an enterprise.

These technologies have some level of overlap, but it is critical to know when to use each one and more importantly when not to use one.  I’ve known Mike a long time and he loves to use the analogy that you can drive a car from one end of the country to the other (say New York to Los Angeles), but the better choice to get from one to the other is certainly not by driving these days, but rather by flying.  The same logic should be applied with these technologies, for example, you may choose to duplicate/sync your users from two different AD forests into a consolidated ‘enterprise’ directory, but you must consider the new problems you just created to solve other problems and perhaps choose a alternative solution.

The bottom line on this topic is that you should consider that for each problem you are attempting to solve, how many new problems are you creating?  In the above example, you know have created a password synchronization problem with your solution (not to mention data latency), so be careful with your choices.

The whte paper Mike is referring to also includes detailed use-cases on this topic combined with the Virtual Identity Server.  Click the link to download the new white paper ‘When to Synchronize, Virtualize and Federate data in the Enterprise‘ white paper.