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Microsoft works to extend identity management to the cloud

You might not believe this, but one thing I took away from TechEd 2010 last week is that Microsoft reps seem to have a real issue with the term “cloud.” This point was brought up in nearly every conversation I had – how “the cloud” is too broad a term, and what the company is really invested in is cloud computing.

Judging by the number of times I heard some variation of this, it’s clear that this is something that Microsoft is determined to drive home. In fact, the point was reinforced several times during the opening keynote, where the focus was on extending the data and tools that IT professionals use on premise to a cloud computing environment.

While this was a major topic at Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2010 in regards to System Center, it was even more so at TechEd, where Active Directory was added to the mix. I sat down with Microsoft’s Justin Graham not long after the keynote, and while we spent a good amount of time discussing what to expect from Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 SP1, we also chatted a little about Microsoft’s plans for AD in the cloud and the company’s overall strategy.

Below are a few snippets from that conversation.

On extending Active Directory to the cloud:
“Microsoft is really the only company that is uniquely positioned to help customers with this choice, and to get through all of the stages. No one has the history we have when it comes to identity management and Active Directory.

Active Directory has been huge in the identity management space for 10 plus years now. And we are working on that identity extending into the cloud, so that when a customer does want to make that leap to Azure, [he or she doesn’t] have to worry about a brand new, completely different identity model. They can use their existing investments with their on-premise identity and just stretch that into the cloud without having to worry about anything.

One of the things customers can do today to start to prepare themselves is to take a really hard look at Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) 2.0, and really look at deploying that and understanding that, so when the next generation of AD comes along with Azure, they can start to make that connection and it will be very simple and seamless for them.”

On customer interest in private cloud environments:
“That’s all about virtualization being the road into the cloud. So the more you virtualize, and the more you orchestrate, and the better you manage your environment and think about your data center as a set of services and things that you deliver to your users, and the more you have management and all the underlying virtualization pieces working to orchestrate that — the easier it’s going to be, and the more benefit they are going to get out of the private cloud.”

On Microsoft’s long-distance live migration capabilities:
“Its’ just going to make things a lot easier for users. When you think about fault tolerance and high availability, of course you would want to make sure that can fail things over to a number of different areas. And of course if you can stretch it, then that gives customers more flexibility. So I think that that’s even a better story when you start to think about the private cloud, and it’s just going to give [users] that additional plus.”

For more from Microsoft TechEd 2010, visit

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Brendan, Good article. The move towards extending Identity management to the loud opens up the opportunity to provide 'Unified Data Governance'. A key component of IAM strategy, is to be able to ensure that only the right people have access to the right data. To that effect, one should be able to answer questions like: - What is accessible to who - Who can access what Regardless if their data is on premise or in the cloud.