Product Watch: Microsoft Unveils Windows Identity Foundation

New .NET tool, Azure cloud computing platform announced today
Microsoft today announced the general availability of its Windows Identity Foundation (WIF), a new element to the .NET framework that lets application developers write applications with identity-based access security.

The Windows Identity Foundation -- formerly known as "Geneva" -- announcement came in conjunction with Microsoft's rollout of its cloud application development platform, Azure, at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.

"We are releasing an important part of our open platform for identity and access for on-premises and in the cloud," says John "JG" Chirapurath, director of the identity and security business group for Microsoft. "When we looked at moving to the cloud, we found that there are two kinds of needs with identity: collaborating with other enterprises and customers...and for utilizing cloud services."

Now Microsoft's identity and access architecture encompasses three products: Active Directory Federation Services 2.0, which ships with Windows and allows the collaboration and federation from enterprise-to-enterprise, cloud-to-cloud, or cloud-to-enterprise; the new Windows Identity Foundation; and Windows CardSpace 2.0, the client tool for managing multiple logins.

"Identity and elements of security have to be a first-class citizen [in the cloud]," Chirapurath says. "They are a key part of that infrastructure. And Windows Identity Foundation lets developers provide secure access to cloud applications."

Identity has been one of the biggest hurdles to cloud computing, he says. "Making identity usable has been one of the biggest roadblocks to cloud computing. Microsoft believes you have to take a holistic approach," Chirapurath says.

Quest Software uses WIF for its new OnDemand IT management solution that's hosted on Azure and was also announced today. Quest says it was able to reduce its authentication and authorization development time by 80 percent using the new Microsoft development tool.

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