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Windows Azure adds two factor authentication, new features

Windows Azure identity management has lagged behind the mature on-premises Active Directory. But Microsoft has made strides to make both access management options equal citizens (and in turn, is making the cloud offering more appetizing to weary administrators).

The company delivered more enhancements to Windows Azure Active Directory this week, including a big security enhancement.

Large companies have been the recent target of major user data theft, and one of the ways Microsoft hopes to combat this is through two factor authentication.

If enabled for a user, when a user correctly inputs their password when logging in, a code will be text messaged to their phone in order to gain access to the server. This isn’t quite ready for primetime, Microsoft marks the feature as a “preview” — meaning some parts might not work.

User account creation also came to the Windows Azure AD interface. This gives administrators the ability to manage user subscriptions right in the Windows Azure Portal. Role based access control also comes to Azure AD, allowing admins to assign other users as administrators. Removing and adding users now also works right from the Azure Portal.

Microsoft also made available the previously announced ability to sync and federate Windows Server AD with Windows Azure AD. When a change is made on Windows Server, it automatically syncs to the Azure Portal, and vice versa.

Windows Azure has gained credibility among corporate IT recently with its pricing and feature improvements.

What do you think of the latest changes to Windows Azure? Are you using Windows Azure AD? Let us know in the comments below, or find us on Twitter @SearchWinServer

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