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Michael Kophs
Partner Technology Strategist

This is really cool!  We’ve been waiting for this!  By “we” I mean us cloud geeks that envision a 100% cloud only platform on which we run our business.  First lets discuss some very important acronyms that make this happen:

WAAD (Windows Azure Active Directory):  If you or your customers are on Office 365, you’re using WAAD already.  WAAD is the identity platform that Office 365 uses.  When you login to your Office 365 Admin Console, create a new user under “Users”, you are using WAAD.  The only time you would NOT be using WAAD, is if you implemented AD FS, which means you’re using your local AD for authentication.  WAAD is the cloud version of AD and runs on Azure.

WAADM (Windows Azure Active Directory Manager):  WAADM is the Azure platform that gives you access to your WAAD instance.  Of course up until now, accessing your WAAD through the Office 365 Admin Console has been the only way to manage your cloud users.  However, with WAADM, we can now access our O365 identity directory through Azure WAADM (go to www.windowsazure.com, click “Portal” and login). 

Why is it important to manage your Office 365 WAAD with WAADM?  Because the free offering of Windows Azure Active Directory with its application access enhancements enables you to easily manage user access to hundreds of cloud SaaS applications like Office 365, Box, GoToMeeting, DropBox, Salesforce.com and others.  This is a game changer!  Azure can now manage authentication to ALL of your (and your customer’s) Microsoft and non-Microsoft cloud services!  At last….a centrally managed cloud services identity management solution that runs in the cloud!!!  It’s also worth noting that I can still sync my on-premises AD (including password sync) with WAAD by using the Directory Synchronization tool that comes with Office 365 for Enterprises.

Here’s a blog on what’s new with WAAD, including a description of the new WAAD Premium offering (currently in Preview) that provides advanced identity and access management capabilities:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/ad/archive/2013/11/21/app-access-enhancements-ga-azure-ad-premium-preview.aspx

Here’s a good blog on how to add your O365 WAAD to your Azure WAADM:

http://www.msexchange.org/blogs/walther/news/accessing-an-office-365-tenant-using-the-new-windows-azure-active-directory-manager-waadm-726.html

After checking it out, let us know your thoughts by commenting below!