IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Windows Azure Active Directory has reached general availability

Since we're developing a product on the Azure cloud, we get their memos about what's new. Most are pretty mundane.
This one promises to be a little more interesting. Integrating AD with the cloud is promised by everyone but has been troublesome so far. I assume Microsoft themselves will be able to do it right.
Here's the announcement that showed up in my mailbox:
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As of today, Windows Azure Active Directory has reached general availability and is now ready for use in production environments. 
Windows Azure Active Directory (Windows Azure AD), enables customers to maintain a single identity that can be used to access applications that are run on Windows Azure or within their own data centers by federating with their on premise directory. 
Some key benefits include: 
      One identity, many applications. With single sign-on enabled, your existing corporate accounts can access resources within your company, plus access cloud applications seamlessly.
      Easy integration with Microsoft Office 365. Are you moving productivity to the cloud? No worries. Windows Azure AD interoperates with Office 365, so setup is quick, and it can federate users with existing directories if needed.
      New apps, a single identity. The cloud offers new ways to develop and deploy applications quickly. Now it's easy to secure those applications, too. You can employ simple, standards-based developer interfaces that provide secure access and deliver single sign-on for your users.
If you're new to Windows Azure Active Directory, there are a few resources to get you started, including Identity Overview, Whiteboard Video, and Documentation
Windows Azure AD is the authentication resource for Office 365, Windows Intune, and other Microsoft services. If you're using these services, you're already using Windows Azure AD. 
During its preview period, Windows Azure Active Directory was available at no charge. We're pleased to let you know that Windows Azure AD-including the base directory in addition to Tenant, User & Group Management, Single Sign-On, Graph API, cloud application provisioning, Directory Synchronization, and Directory Federation benefits-will continue to be available at no charge. For more information about pricing, please visit the Pricing Details webpage. 
Visit the Windows Azure Management Portal to get started today. 
Thank you, 
Windows Azure Team 
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About the Author

Karl W. Palachuk, is a technology consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and coach. He is the author of fifteen books. He has built several successful businesses, including two managed services companies. His books include Managed Services in a Month and The Network Documentation Workbook. Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the SMB Community. His popular blog can be found at He has more than twenty years experience as an I.T. professional and serves on advisory panels for several hardware and software companies.

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