Bryan Von Axelson 2010

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The following link is for a recently published document detailing How to utilize Azure for Single Sign-On to Office 365.  It is designed for system architects who want to understand the architecture and deployment options for extending your customer’s on-premise Active Directory Infrastructure with Windows Azure Virtual Machines: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38845

In reading through the document, not only does it discuss the Azure conversation, it does a phenomenal job in distinguishing the concepts of ADFS, and Azure.  The Document provides insights into the best implementation practices, an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the new Windows Azure solutions available, and a comparison to on-premises implementations.  Depending on your customer’s business needs, Windows Azure will be the appropriate choice.

Running infrastructure components in Windows Azure™ has multiple benefits that include:

·         Cloud strategy. Better aligns with your cloud strategy, helping to reduce on-premises hardware investments.

·         Potential for reduced cost for hardware and software. Includes the potential to expand the conversion from capital expenditures to operational expenditures for the infrastructure services that are supporting your Office 365 deployment. You won’t have to purchase additional servers and run them in your data centers or from a remote location.

·         Rapid deployment. Infrastructure components can be deployed in a relatively short time, requiring little to no additional on-premises hardware resources.

·         Improved business continuity. Federated users can continue to log on to Office 365, even when the on-premises environment is temporarily unavailable.

·         Scalability on-demand. If you require expansion or changes to your directory integration in the future, Windows Azure gives you the flexibility to make these changes rapidly, without additional on-premises investments.

·         Site resiliency and disaster recovery. Possible scenarios include disaster recovery where Windows Azure is hosting redundant critical services for your infrastructure. This enables a failover in case there’s an on-premises disaster.

·         Flexibility. Components may be relocated, load-balanced, and distributed across multiple geographic regions. This reduces dependency on the corporate network.

Integrating Office 365 with your existing on-premises platforms requires careful planning, regardless of whether they are implemented on-premise or in Windows Azure.  Planning the implementation and management of these infrastructure components in the cloud is almost identical to implementing on-premise.  I would strongly encourage the detailed reading and thought process in Section 3, as it describes the deployment scenarios, but also goes into detail on “Is this the right solution” ?