Azure Active Directory Guide

I might have mentioned it before, but I’m really stoked by Microsoft Azure and the things you can do with it. The amount of functionality currently present is stunning (granted some of it is in a preview state). Now there are other clouds that can deliver many of the same features, and the basic services like virtual machines can be delivered by pretty much anyone, but the combination of it all… Well, I like it. Both from the developer perspective, and the IT Pro side of things.

I have worked extensively with different Azure teams for the past year and a half, and I have been thinking to myself that I should write down some of my learnings and put it online. There are a lot of good sources on Azure already online, and I don’t want to just repeat the official docs, so it needed to be something more interesting than that. Since the breadth of Azure encompasses a lot of different technologies I’m certainly not qualified to write about everything, and I didn’t want it to be random un-related Azure "stuff" either, so I decided I had to be more focused.

A lot of what I do with Azure in my day job comes back to there being one central foundation for so much of it, and that part is Azure Active Directory. So, how about a guide on Azure Active Directory? I’m sure there are at least five other people than myself interested in that 🙂 The Azure AD teams have a lot of good stuff in the pipeline so I should be able to keep myself busy for a while as it trickles into public previews and eventually GA.

I’ve previously done multi-part series directly on this blog where I’ve maintained an index post, and added different pieces as I’ve went along. If you’re following in an RSS reader it’s very readable and nice, but it doesn’t feel as cohesive as one might like. After all, there is a reason the MSDN library is built in a strict hierarchical manner instead of random rants spread out over time. As such I have set up a separate site for this purpose:
https://aadguide.azurewebsites.net
The "raw" site is on GitHub:
https://github.com/ahelland/AADGuide

You’ll probably prefer the first link, but you can approach it the way you like it.

This does not mean I’ll be abandoning this site yet, even though the posts have become more infrequent, it just felt more right releasing it this way. Visual Studio might not be what you would normally call a blog utility, but I’ve used it as such for building out the initial content 🙂 (All content is written in Markdown.)

I’m not saying everything Azure AD is there yet; after all it is a work in progress, but I’ve written down some starter content and I’m actively working on producing more. You just don’t have an idea how much Azure AD actually includes before you start lining up the articles you’d like to write! The guides will be directed both towards the IT Pro crowd on how to value-add Office 365, Virtual Machines, etc. as well as developer articles on how to integrate apps with Azure AD and use it as an identity back-end.

To start things off I would like to point you in the direction of an article that I originally started out writing as a blog post for this site, but ended up re-working slightly and turn into an entry in the Azure AD guide instead:

Azure AD Join in Windows 10
http://aadguide.azurewebsites.net/aadjoin/

From the enterprise side of things this fills a gap compared to the consumer oriented setup of Windows 8.x, and I find myself liking this feature quite a lot so far.

I hope you like it, and don’t stop giving me feedback or questions in general.

Using Azure AD Directory Extensions with Calendar Publishing

I ran through a setup three weeks ago where I used the “Directory Extensions” preview feature in Azure Active Directory to show how I could store an extra id on the user object and use this attribute in a different web app:
http://mobilitydojo.net/2014/04/08/extending-your-azure-active-directory-part-1/

Not feeling entirely done with creating samples I’ll be building another web app showing another scenario where directory extensions might be a useful approach. We’ll extract some data from Office 365 (Exchange Online more specifically), and insert into Azure AD and re-use it.

Exchange Online has this neat feature where you can publish your calendar externally so anyone can check it without being a member of your Active Directory. Actually, it’s not just Office 365 users who get this – Exchange 2013 on-prem can do so as well, but this sample will only explore the clouded version. (You can probably tweak it to work with a local Exchange Server if you like; the differences are probably fairly minor.) I’m not saying there aren’t drawbacks to using this feature, you certainly should not expose all details in your calendar to the general public, but it can be useful in a couple of scenarios and you don’t have to share all the details either.

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Extending Your Azure Active Directory – Part 2

In the previous post we built a web app that would let us add a custom attribute to our Active Directory tenant in Azure AD, and manipulate the value of this attribute on a per user basis. If you haven’t read the previous article I strongly suggest going back and doing so, or this might not make much sense Smilefjes

In this part I’m going to build another app that will use the information the first app provisioned into Azure AD. The first app let me register YubiKeys, and this app will let me authenticate based on these keys. The code is fully functional without the physical keys, so you will be able to follow along even if you don’t have one in your hand.

This app could have been implemented as a Windows Phone app, an Android app, or what have you really, but to make it available for all scenarios without too much fuss I’m building it as a web app. (Which is an entirely plausible use case by it’s own merits.)

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