When Office 365 Education was launched, and the ability to provide seamless single sign-on to the service was realised, a lot of my customers were emailing asking me how they could have all the benefits of ADFS without the infrastructure burden. After all, many education customers, particularly schools, do not have the funds to invest in on-premises hardware and have to be as efficient as they can with what they already have.

The truth is that in order to provide a highly available, properly sized, secure ADFS infrastructure some customers would have to deploy extra servers, and surely part of anybody’s cloud strategy is to reduce on-premises hardware not add to it! That’s where the Office 365 Adapter can help – by utilising the power of Windows Azure.

With the introduction of Windows Azure Virtual Machines, institutions who require Active Directory federation have another Microsoft-supported choice for hosting these services.

Aside from the obvious benefit of moving to Windows Azure being reduced on-premises hardware, there are many other ways it can be an advantage:

  • Continuity - your students and staff can continue to sign in to Office 365 Education from outside school, even if your school broadband link goes down.
  • Flexibility – components can be relocated, load-balanced and distribute across the world.
  • Resilience and disaster recovery – Windows Azure can host redundant critical services, enabling failover in case of an on-premises disaster.

Download the Office 365 Adapter guide today to see how it all works!

Of course, even the Office 365 Adapter requires some time and effort to set up and configure. With the IT manager’s time already divided too many different ways, it might be nice to pay somebody else to sort SSO out for you. Helpfully, there are partners like IAM Cloud who offer similar cloud-hosted solutions to provide ADFS without the on-premises infrastructure to go with it!

Don't forget to check out the new password synchronisation options there are, too! When ADFS is just out of reach, DirSync & Password Sync can keep your student and staff identities the same between Active Directory and Office 365, without the single sign-on capabilities.