Share-n-dipity

SharePoint serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. In this case, it is the occassional musings, observations, and Ouija board readings about the phabulously

SAML in a Box - Inviting External Users to Your SharePoint Farm

SAML in a Box - Inviting External Users to Your SharePoint Farm

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Those of you who follow the Share-n-Dipity blog know that I don’t really do much in the way of product endorsements.  However, you have probably also figured out that I’m a big SAML fan, so when a friend of mine recently released a new product for this market it really caught my eye.  If you’ve followed the blog for a while you may have seen me reference a friend mine by the name of Israel Vega, Jr.  He worked with me at Microsoft for many years and last year decided to head out on his own.  “Iz”, as we call him, has done a ton of work with SharePoint over the years and was really one of the go to guys for it in Microsoft Services when he left.

He has just released a new product called CloudExtra.NET, which is obviously a play on “cloud extranet”.  What I really like about his solution is that it’s SAML in a box – basically a turn-key product that brings a lot of things customers frequently ask me about to a packaged product.  He uses SAML authentication and a custom claims provider to enable you to use any number of cloud-based directories out of the box.  That includes Azure Active Directory for internal users, and anything you can connect to ACS for your external users.  That part is pretty cool because he has basically built “invited users” for on-premises SharePoint farms, a feature that currently is only available to Office 365. For those of you who aren’t ready to do that yet, this is a pretty slick way to do it with your own farms now too. 

He’s added some nice features that round out his solution.  He has a Terms and Conditions agreement for it so you can make invited users agree to your terms of use before gaining access to your farm.  He also has a product that’s cool in its own right and is bundled with CloudExtra.NET, which is a business impact application.  It lets you assign an impact rating to sites (like High, Medium and Low) and then also use that to apply a site policy to it when you do so.  He ties it all together with farm-wide reporting on sites based on business impact.  There are also a bunch of reporting and management features built in for invited users that make it a very solid offering.

I gleaned all this from about a 30 minute demo that Iz gave me, and I’m hoping to spend some time in the not too distant future doing a hands-on review of the product to check it out for myself.  If it sounds like something that might be interested to you then you should go visit his web site at http://cloudextra.net.  Thanks Iz for the SAML love!

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