Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, ManageEngine IT Matters

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices 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 opportuni...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.