Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Xenia von Wedel, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Identity Challenges in Cloud Computing

Identity scenarios and solutions using Windows Azure

Enterprises are seeing a great potential in cloud-based services. However, security is a primary concern that keeps enterprise from harnessing the full potential. Identity management is one of the most important aspects of security. There is always an authentication required in an application to identify the user and provide service based on the user details. Authorization is required to allow only privilege user to execute privilege operation. An identity store required to maintain the identity and roles for the user.

Identity Management is a solution that takes into consideration all the identity concerns: authentication, authorization and maintaining identity.

In this article we will discuss some of the challenges occur while moving to the cloud in terms of identity. And what are the Microsoft technologies available to resolve identity management issues over the cloud and scenarios and solutions to use those technologies

Challenges on Identity Management While Moving to Cloud
Maintaining Identity for on-premise applications is easy, as you can have a centralized source of Identity which can be used across all applications since they are hosted in your own private network.

Challenges emerge when attempting migration to cloud or building a new application for cloud where the applications would not have direct access to the on-premise directory. Some of the challenges are:

  • Most of the origination will already have their own directory setup in their premises and as for security it will be good to maintain it at centralized location at the premise itself. So organization tents to reuse the same over the cloud also.
  • To access corporate application user should not has to setup a VPN connection to their network, application should be allowed to access over the internet
  • Multiple applications which are tightly coupled with the on-premise identity store like Sql server and the customer want to keep the identity and central location do not want to span to multiple store.
  • Allowing user to log once and access all the application seamlessly by adding the single sign-on capability.

To make application extensible such a way without much modification it should work with multiple identity providers which follows different protocols.

Let's look in the following section how Windows Azure platform give solutions to this issues.

Different technique of Identity management
Identity management structure can be classified in two major groups, Role based and Claim based access.

Role-based access
Roles based access is a traditional approach out of most authorization process. In role based authentication user provides credential such as username and password to application, and user will be authenticated based on that. User will map to groups or roles and permissions are provided based on the group or role. Application store user details along with credential in an identity store.

Some of the generally used Microsoft Technologies to implement Role based Identity for on-premise and over the Azure -

ASP.net Membership Profile - This is simple yet powerful technique, where identity can be store on SQL Server or SQL Azure.

Windows Identity - The on premise application can be authenticated directly by windows directory such as Active Directory. Whereas when moving to Azure, domain join could be created by Azure Connect between on-premise and Azure Cloud service, to access on premise windows directory.

Custom store- Custom Identity store can be created over SQL Server or SQL Azure.

Claim-based access
In a Claim-based approach the user provides credentials to Identity Provider's Secure Token Service (IP STS), IP STS in turn provides the signed token which has collection of claims, Application extract the claims from token and use the information to execute the business process. Figure shows a simple picture of how this happens.

Trust need to be created between IP STS and Application (Relying Party) by setting up the different protocols, policies and rules for generating a token. Application only accepts the token from the issuer (STS) which it trusts.

Difficulty arise, what if user want to get authenticated by the Identity Provider which Application doesn't trust.  We can take one step further to claim based by going to identity federation.

Federation
In Federation, the issuer can accept the token form another issuer, instead of authenticating user directly.  So issuer becomes federation provider (FP- STS) not only issue token as well accept token from the other Identity Provider (IP- STS). The figure below shows how identity federation is used.

Users first authenticate with an IP- STS and get the Token. They present the tokens they receive from IP -STS to FP-STS, which accepts it and authenticating them directly and Issue token for application to use. This token is what the user sends to application.

Getting security token form STS can be done actively or passively.  Active Federation where Relying Party should own login logic where as in passive from browser user gets redirected to the login page hosted by STS. Typically Active Federation uses when Authentication needs to build on Service rather than UI part, where as Passive Federation use to provide authentications of users accessing a web site.

Microsoft Technologies to implement Claim-based Federated Identity for on-premise and over Azure:

  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF): WIF is a set of .NET Framework classes that implement essential identity functions, such as receiving a token, verifying its signature, and accessing the claims it contains.
  • Windows Active Directory Service2.0: Its fully featured STS built on Active Directory. The same AD FS 2.0 instance can act as either an identity provider STS or a federation provider STS.
  • Windows Azure Access Control Service (ACS): ACS works as a Cloud-based federation provider STS. it simplify user access and authorization in application. ACS allowed application running on cloud or on premise to access the token form on-primes STS of different organization as well as access the token form different cloud identity providers like Windows Live ID, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and OpenID. ACS supports various protocols, including WS-Federation, WS-Trust, OpenID 2.0, and OAuth 2.0. and accept and issue tokens in  SAML and Simple Web Token (SWT) formats.
  • Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD): WAAD is a cloud extension of Windows Server AD. It offers users to extended already existing on-premises Active Directory to the cloud and provides a highly scalable enterprise identity management solution. WAAD is underlying technology for identity management in Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Intune, and Windows Azure Online Backup. So if customer has Office 365 / Windows Intune Online accounts, He is already a WAAD-Tenant. There are two major scenarios where WAAD can be used for application building for a single organization or provides support for multi tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

Scenarios and Solutions for identity management in Azure
Let's take a very basic scenario where organization migrate an application to azure which use windows authentication to grant access to its user.

Domain join can be created by using Azure connect between Hosted Azure VM / web role to the on-premise network. With this approach there are no changes required in the access management of the application. User can login to the application with their windows credentials as it is allowed in on premise application.

Let's take a another scenario two trading partners exchanging purchase-order messages, where a large high-tech equipment manufacturer to migrate there web application to Azure which use for partners exchanging purchase-order message. Where application should allowed organization and partner user to access the application with their domain credentials

One of the solutions could be federating authentication with Azure ACS.  Where between organization and partner Issuer trust can be created with ACS. And the application needs to configure for accepting the token form ACS.

As diagram depict if organization user logs in; user will get redirected to organization ADFS server to get authenticated; whereas for partner user, user get authenticated by their STS.

To make user more convenience automated home realm discovery (HRD) can be implemented where based on cookies or URI/ query string user directed to direct their organization ADFS server.

Benefits of the solution are any number of partners can be connected to site by just doing a configuration in ACS. Or same site can be accessed by the any other social identity providers. As the overhead of the understanding the token format and protocol used by Identity providers is done by the ACS, so no much changes required at application site with respect to identity management.

As the growing the use of the smart phone; user wants their most of the work done by the smart phone itself. User expects to gain access to his data and service same as he gets on his PC. Let's take a scenario where a windows phone app needs to give an access to user with their existing identity and the same time they have to expose secure service that integrate with multiple web identity provider.

Internal web service hosted on premise could be exposed to internet by a secured Azure service bus; same can be consumed by the windows phone application.

To secure the service bus there could be two ways one by Shared Secret or by ACS, In ACS we can configured for the different web identity providers based on the requirement.

Here the windows phone application can authenticate by using passive federation model with ACS. ACS will redirect the user to selected identity provider Login page user will get authenticated by the IP and ACS will generate the SWT / SAML token based on the Token provided by the IP. As in passive federation, we should verify that issuer renders a suitable sign-in page.

Let's take another example where an independent software vendor (ISV), is building a customer relationship management (CRM) solution as a SaaS (Software as a service) based Application. Where for each new customer application need to give access to customer user based on their domain credential. Using Windows Azure AD it's easy to develop identity management for a SaaS based application where application can be easily integrated with multiple WAAD Tenants. Once application is integrated with one WAAD account, there will be no much change to integrate another.

Application should maintain the Windows Azure AD tenants info and key for checking signatures on tokens coming from Windows Azure AD with the respective customer. On first login of the Customer admin it should redirect to a consent page, where he can configure application to access their Windows Azure directory.

Add some logic to redirect unauthenticated requests to the correct Windows Azure AD tenant for user authentication. And the users who authenticated with Windows Azure AD can be recognized and granted access.

Summary
Azure support both Role-based and Claim-based access management approach. Domain join can be used to achieve windows authentication on azure similar to on-primes. SQL Azure can used to store member ship profile data for role based authentication. For claim based access ACS and WAAD can used in Azure.

ACS could be used for securing Service Bus, web service and web application. Windows Azure Active Directory enables solutions for many common scenarios such as single sign-on, authentication for multitenant application.

References

More Stories By Priyamvada Nigam

Priyamvada Nigam works as a Technical Analyst at Tech Mahindra. She is interested in Microsoft technologies such as ASP.net, WCF, WWF, and Azure. For the past three years she has been working on Azure technologies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"We have seen the evolution of WebRTC right from the starting point to what it has become today, that people are using in real applications," noted Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President and Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy and Ecosystem at GENBAND, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
"In the IoT space we are helping customers, mostly enterprises and industry verticals where time-to-value is critical, and we help them with the ability to do faster insights and actions using our platform so they can transform their business operations," explained Venkat Eswara, VP of Marketing at Vitria, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Connected things, systems and people can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other that result in new service possibilities. By taking a look at the impact of Internet of Things when it transitions to a highly connected services marketplace we can understand how connecting the right “things” and leveraging the right partners can provide enormous impact to your business’ growth and success. In her general session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, discussed how this exciting emergence of layers of...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that kintone has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and high availability solutions, leveraging the cloud and the benefits of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS...