In the hopes of simplifying cloud operations for organizations, VMware has launched a federated sign-on service for cloud applications. The service can extend internal user directories to cloud services without disclosing user names or passwords, the company contends.
With the service, called VMware Horizon App Manager, employees can sign on to a Web portal using their company user name and password and then access multiple applications without additional authentication, said Noah Wasmer, who is the director of advanced product management at VMware. Users will only see and be able to access the applications they are approved to use.
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Many customers are interested in using cloud services, Wasmer explained, but would like to extend their internal company directories to cover these services as well, Wasmer said. Organizations "may be nervous about having their user names and passwords out there in the cloud," he said.
The VMware service synchornizes the internal list of user accounts with existing Active Directory and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)-based user directories. No passwords are transmitted between internal directories and VMware's service. Instead, an agent synchronizes user data by the exchange of SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) tokens to the VMware service.
VMware has worked with a number of cloud service providers, such as Salesforce.com, Google, and the company's own Zimbra, to develop connectors for those services. Additional connectors can be built for other providers, as well as internal services, by writing a SAML-based interface
The customer portal will also offer a number of other potential benefits, Wasmer said. It will allow employees to access cloud services regardless of what device they use. It also allows organizations to set up in-house app catalogues that employees can peruse and pick apps that meet their needs. The service will cut the number of passwords needed by employees, as well as give organizations greater control over how their employees use cloud services.
Wasmer explained that this service is one component in what will eventually be an entire cloud application management service. On Monday,VMware announced that it is in the process of purchasing Shavlik Technologies, which provides software to help manage VMware-based cloud applications.
The service will cost $30 per user per year and is available now for selected customers.