As illustrated during Microsoft’s Windows 10 reveal, Microsoft is going all-in with cloud and mobility by creating an operating system that provides the same look and feel across all PC, tablet, phone, and Xbox devices. Azure is the platform that hosts Office 365, Xbox Live, and a myriad other services, with Office 365 in particular growing at an astounding rate since its release in June 2011.
According to Computer World, Office 365 witnessed a year-over-year subscriber growth rate of 460% in FY14, and a 27% quarter-over-quarter growth rate. Combine those figures with the growing prevalence of corporate BYOD, and IT Directors will find themselves drowning in their effort to maintain a compliant and secure data warehouse while providing end users with the capability to access corporate information whenever, wherever, as per Microsoft’s vision.
Identifying Cloud Deployment Challenges
When organizations first consider moving to the cloud, IT must define 3 primary criteria – cost, scalability, and security. Within each of these broad criteria are numerous other considerations which ultimately make or break the cloud adoption strategy. Cost is relatively self-explanatory, and Microsoft is addressing it with the newly announced Office365 packaging and pricing bundles at WPC 2014. But scalability and security are on-going issues at the root of many IT personnel’s sleepless nights.
Let’s take a deeper look at scalability and security as they are inextricably linked, albeit at the opposite ends of the spectrum. As an organization’s cloud grows larger, it becomes increasingly difficult to guarantee its security. Likewise, the most secure environments are those which IT can firmly grasp and monitor, defeating the purpose of implementing a cloud and BYOD strategy altogether.
With regards to scalability, for cloud based apps like Office 365 to be effective, it must be scalable to add and on-board new users quickly with access availability anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This leads into several questions:
- User provisioning – do I as the IT admin have to manually add hundreds or thousands of my employee accounts, assign their licenses, and manage their roles and access controls within these cloud apps?
- Accessibility with security – will I as the end user have to supply my login credentials every time I try to access Office 365 wherever I am?
- Secure mobile access – If I do find a Single Sign-on (SSO) solution, how can it protect all the devices on which I would access Office 365 from, in the wake of those devices’ theft or compromise?
Thanks to a growing base of Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solutions, IT and end users can experience:
- Seamless integration with Active Directory and Office 365
- Automatic user provisioning by assigning roles
- Configure access based on role, location, time and device via policies
- Secure login to any SaaS app from anywhere without passwords
- Secure management and support for any mobile device
- All through a centralized IT management console
Integrated User, Device, and Application Management
As mentioned, one of the biggest hurdles to cloud and BYOD is solving the lifecycle of challenges associated with managing users, their devices, and their apps instantly and continuously. Centrify’s unique IDaaS solution provides cloud identity management, combined with mobile device and app management.
Centrify’s account provisioning functionality enables IT to automatically create user accounts across 2500+ cloud applications and platforms, including Office 365, which can be an easier alternative to tools like DirSync. IT can instantly deploy Office 365 to new users immediately and assign their access to multiple platforms and devices, all from a single enterprise directory like AD. This capability to provision users also allows IT to assign the appropriate permissions and licensing to the user, restricting or allowing access to certain applications based on location, time and endpoints.
Once Centrify is deployed, within a few hours users can continuously enjoy 1-click access to a rich catalog of over 2500 SaaS apps from desktops and mobile devices (Zero Sign On) and get self-service features like the ability to remotely track, lock, and wipe devices through user friendly web portals. Additionally, IDaaS from Centrify includes – at no extra cost – an industry leading cloud-based MDM and MAM solution to offer comprehensive enterprise mobility management (EMM) features that help IT admins secure and protect the mobile devices which are today’s de-facto endpoints for consuming cloud apps.
Cut Time to Implementation
SoftwareONE offers a variety of Microsoft Advisory Services (MAS) specifically designed to mitigate all the above challenges through comprehensive cloud readiness and deployment workshops. Working in partnership with Centrify, deploying Office 365 with full user, device, and application SSO takes only a few hours, whereas deploying the same solution with ADFS and DirSync could take up to 2 weeks.
Microsoft has also tested Centrify for Office 365 across key user scenarios and has qualified it as a “Works with Office 365” solution. In addition to validating functionality, this important designation also establishes protocols between Microsoft and Centrify to ensure responsive joint customer support to Office 365 customers. Simply put, Centrify is “on strategy” with Microsoft as an Office 365 partner.
More importantly, once Centrify is deployed, IT benefits from a future-proof and paid-for solution that is ready to automatically provision hundreds of cloud applications that are pre-integrated with Centrify’s IDaaS service.