CTO’s Corner- Microsoft Azure Active Directory And Transvault Single-Sign-On

Posted by Liam Neate on Mar 14, 2016 Last updated Jan 12, 2021

March is upon us already, so here is my first blog post of 2016, which comes to you after a very long hiatus!

As chief technology officer of a forward thinking business like Transvault, I’m always intrigued by others’ advancements in technology and the world of technological innovation. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about WAAD, or in its long form – Windows Azure Active Directory. So grab yourself a coffee (or if it’s after 5 in the evening, perhaps something a little stronger?) to prepare for what may not seem as the most exciting of topics but one that is going to increasingly permeate technology systems over the coming years.

So, what’s the story with WAAD you may be thinking? If you’re already using Microsoft Office 365, or a Microsoft Azure subscription, then you’re already using WAAD. It’s the place that stores all of the users in an organization that can access a Microsoft Office 365 tenancy, or a Microsoft Azure subscription. In fact, it’s just like the more familiar Active Directory that many use in their company today, only with a lot more power! A WAAD implementation contains all of the users in every single tenancy around the world – a vast number, which continues to grow all the time.

Microsoft also allow you to use their WAAD infrastructure to implement something called (SSO). This means you can use it to allow a user to sign in once with WAAD, with, say their Microsoft Office 365 account, and then get access to all sorts of other systems without having to log in again – therefore empowering the user and saving loads of time. This already applies to other Microsoft services, but you could now use it to sign into any number of 3rd party systems too. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with remembering more than a few passwords, so anything that means I have less to remember has to be a good thing. After all, there’s only so many times I can enter “Password123” without wearing those keys down. Eyelids getting heavier yet? Take another sip, we’re getting to the interesting bit, I promise…

The fact that WAAD is accessible to 3rd parties opens up lots of interesting possibilities if you’re a software vendor. Microsoft Office 365 is a huge marketplace, and if you can make it easy for all those users to access your services with their existing account, then unsurprisingly, they’re going to be more inclined to use them. Does this mean that WAAD is going to become a central hub for signing on to all online services in the same way that Google & Facebook have become? These are focussed on individuals but for business users, why not? Microsoft Office 365 continues to conquer the business world so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, our Microsoft Office 365 account becomes our portal into the online world when we’re at work.

Microsoft is making a big push in encouraging ISVs to adopt WAAD, and I think this is a great play for both sides. It’s symbiotic – as they continue to expand their Office 365 community, we get access to a rock solid infrastructure and a huge audience of potential users. If you’re a Microsoft supporter and an Office 365 specialist already, as Transvault is, then – well, it would be rude not to get involved…

So what are you doing with it then Matt, you might be thinking?

In 2016 we will be integrating our partner facing systems with WAAD. This means a seamless SSO experience for our existing partners, and also means that all those Office 365 administrators looking to migrate their legacy archive data into Office 365 can access the best product for doing so, without having to choose yet another password. Another juicy innovation for our users via Microsoft!

Now, I know that there’s much more I could reflect on when it comes to WAAD, but I’ll leave that to your comments, advice or even own experiences with WAAD that you can share via this post.

So that wraps up today’s post about WAAD and SSO – I think this is set to be a much-used feature of Microsoft’s cloud, one designed to make users’ lives easier. I hope your coffee’s still warm or your stronger drink’s still cold!