Microsoft's identity cloud platform enters Beta 2

Beta 2 of Geneva adds single sign-on capabilities across server applications and cloud-based services and long-awaited support for SAML 2.0

Microsoft Monday released the Beta 2 of Geneva, its identity platform for the cloud, adding single sign-on capabilities across server applications and cloud-based services, and long-awaited support for SAML 2.0.

Microsoft has added a number of new features around Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 specification, including SAML interoperability with identity software from CA, Novell, SAP and Sun.

[ Microsoft's cloud identity platform is on track to ship this year. | Keep up with all the latest cloud news with whurley's Cloud Computing blog. ]

In addition, Microsoft will add certification for the Liberty Alliance implementation of SAML 2.0 when the final code of Geneva is released at the end of 2009.

In the Geneva beta, which is being released publicly for the first time, Microsoft also is adding integration with SharePoint that provides SSO to the server from inside and outside corporate firewalls.

Microsoft also has added in Beta 2 integration with Rights Management Services (RMS), which lets users set permissions, based on identity, that control actions such as copying and forwarding files. The company has linked Geneva and the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system to create SSO to cloud-based services.

Beta 2 is available now and final shipment of the software is slated for year-end.

Geneva is an open identity platform that includes federation services, development tools and gateway technologies.

The identity platform's foundation is the claims-based access model and Security Token Service (STS) technology that Microsoft has been developing over the past few years as part of its industry effort to create a single identity system based on standard protocols.

Geneva is made up of the Geneva Server, formerly called Active Directory Federation Services 2.0; Geneva CardSpace Client, a smaller and faster version of the identity client now available with Vista; and the Geneva Framework, which was formerly, code-named Zermatt.

Also part of the platform is the Microsoft Service Connector, the Microsoft Federation Gateway and the .Net Access Control Service, which are designed to create a sort of identity backbone and connection to the cloud, specifically Azure.

One of the most significant additions is support for the SAML 2.0 protocol. Microsoft had supported the SAML token format as part of its Identity MetaSystem, which is the foundation of the Geneva project.

Support for the protocol helped cement interoperability with CA's Federation Manager and SiteMinder, Novell's Access Manager, SAP's NetWeaver, and Sun's Open SSO and Fedlet software.

Microsoft also has added a new claims transformation engine in Geneva Server.

"It includes extensibility to source claims from Active Directory and equal or other attribute stores," says Brendan Foley, director product management for Geneva.

Geneva Beta 2 includes built-in Visual Studio templates that make it easier to build and deploy claims-aware applications.

Foley said the three main pieces of Geneva would be licensed under Windows, but that the particular "ship vehicle"  announcement would come at a later date.

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This story, "Microsoft's identity cloud platform enters Beta 2" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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