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Centrify for SaaS Supports Office 365

Centrify makes it faster and easier to migrate to Office 365 with Active Directory integration for single sign-on

Centrify, which made its bones making Microsoft's popular Active Directory accessible to Redmond's enemies list, is spreading its wings and snuggling up closer to Microsoft at the same time by throwing it something of a lifeline.

See, Microsoft expects Office 365 to be one of the fastest-growing businesses in its history. It's already claimed it's got a billion-dollar run rate. There's only one little problem.

The widgetry Microsoft supplies for Active Directory integration - ADFS or Active Directory Federation Services - is a pain in the proverbial tail for both Microsoft's field personnel and the channel, which is paid to sell Office 365 and hardly needs to spend hours wrestling with the slippery stuff since it actually takes pricey dedicated hardware and specialized knowledge of the operating system to get it up and running.

Not so Centrify's software, which can reportedly be deployed in an hour.

Centrify makes it faster and easier to migrate to Office 365 with Active Directory integration for single sign-on and access management by using its cloud-based, Microsoft-certified Centrify for SaaS, which naturally enough exists on Windows Azure.

Centrify for Office 365 delivers full support for Office 365, simplifies the deployment of federated identity, provides a rich catalog of a 100 going on a 1,000 pre-integrated SaaS apps, and delivers "Zero Sign-On" (ZSO) for rich mobile clients that require access to Office 365.

It should also stop irritated, impatient customers from wishing they'd gone with Google Apps.

It seamlessly integrates with Active Directory without the hassle of managing server clusters in the DMZ, creating security issues by poking more holes in the firewall, replicating identity information to the cloud, or acquiring and maintaining public certificates.

The "frictionless" solution - Microsoft's word - was shown off this week at TechEd in New Orleans for the first time.

Centrify says "Every SaaS application represents yet another silo of identity and access control challenges for organizations. By controlling access to SaaS applications such as Office 365 through Centrify for SaaS and centrally authenticating users with their Active Directory identity, IT gains valuable insight into which applications are in use, and can easily de-provision access to business-critical SaaS applications when users leave the organization. With easy and thorough reporting on who has access to Office 365 and other SaaS applications, and what they did with that access privilege, IT can more quickly prove compliance with regulations and industry best practices - freeing up expensive IT resources to deliver on other business critical projects." It also improves security by reducing passwords.

The widgetry also works through Centrify for Mobile which gives users self-service features such as locating, locking or wiping their lost device. The end result is user self-empowerment, eliminating redundant solutions, and reducing the helpdesk burden of day-to-to-day administration.

Centrify figures the integration with Office 365 aligns it strategically with Microsoft.

Centrify for Office 365 is built on Windows Azure, and unlike competitive solutions doesn't merely synchronize with Active Directory for user information but natively integrates and retains the customer's Windows Server Active Directory or Azure Active Directory infrastructure as the identity provider. It enables IT to cost-effectively deliver SaaS single sign-on and security by leveraging existing technology, skillsets and processes associated with Active Directory environments.

The Centrify Cloud Service is multi-tenant and provides secure communication from on-premise Active Directory to the SaaS applications accessed. It facilitates secure single sign-on and controls access to SaaS applications by acting as a security token service that can authenticate users to the user portal with Kerberos, SAML or an Active Directory username/password; then logs the user into his SaaS application through a one-click selection from a list of permitted SaaS applications.

The widgetry is available and free to organizations using Office 365 and no more than two other SaaS applications. Above that three-app threshold, it costs $4 a user a month, including technical support and feature updates.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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