United Kingdom (U.K.) systems integrator Dot Net Solutions wanted to offer a cloud-based identity management platform for all businesses to use with Microsoft Office 365. Its ADFS Online service uses Microsoft System Center 2012 with Windows
Azure. Global customers can subscribe for a minimum of £100 a month—compared to tens of thousands of pounds for an on-premises implementation. ADFS Online can be deployed in 60 minutes with no upfront costs or maintenance.
Dot Net Solutions, based in Windsor in the U.K., specialises in providing cloud-based solutions on Windows Azure and Office 365 to a range of organisations, from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to large, global enterprises. The systems integrator—which
Microsoft ranks among the leading systems integrators for Windows Azure in the U.K.—wanted to enhance its reputation, positioning itself as a partner skilled in automating professional services previously delivered manually.
Dan Scarfe, Chief Executive Officer, Dot Net Solutions, says: “After starting to work with Microsoft Office 365, Dot Net Solutions was keen to differentiate itself from other Office 365 partners. We were looking for a unique selling point. What we came up
with was providing on-demand access to a single sign-on product for Office 365 delivered via the cloud. It avoided the need to buy servers or underlying infrastructure and services. This turned into ADFS Online.”
To get single sign-on to Office 365, many Microsoft customers have to deploy anywhere from two to 15 on-premises servers to handle Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 for identity management. A typical on-premises Active Directory Federation Services
installation can take from five to 20 days of professional services. Hardware costs range from £5,000 (U.S.$7,900) to £50,000.
Scarfe says: “This represents a significant investment before on-premises customers can even start using cloud services such as Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. When trying to sell a cloud solution, this often represents a challenging conversation,
and a number of Office 365 deployments are currently blocked on this problem.”
Dot Net Solutions used the Service Manager and Orchestrator features in Microsoft System Center 2012 with Windows Azure to launch its ADFS Online service.
ADFS Online is based in eight Microsoft data centres across three global regions. Each data centre is a state-of-the-art facility designed, built, and managed by Microsoft Global Foundation Services. The service is delivered from the same facilities as Bing,
Outlook.com, Xbox Live, and Windows Update. The protection and security systems from Microsoft offer peace of mind to ADFS Online customers.
Scarfe says: “ADFS Online uses Service Manager and Orchestrator to provide complete provisioning of Active Directory Federation Services with no upfront costs and low monthly pay-as-you-go pricing.” It guarantees 99.95 per cent uptime with a financially
backed service-level agreement for customers.
By delivering ADFS Online as a cloud service on Windows Azure, there are no upfront costs. Scarfe says: “Customers can rapidly implement ADFS Online, speeding up their adoption and lowering the cost of entry. The cost of the solution ranges from 69 pence
per user a month to £2.50 per user a month, depending on the customer’s redundancy and availability requirements. There is a minimum commitment of £100 a month.”
The solution is currently in its public open beta stage before final release and the first customers are already going live. Scarfe says: “Dot Net Solutions helps customers fully embrace cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365 by removing one of the
major issues for users—managing multiple passwords.”
ADFS Online has the potential to unlock hundreds of opportunities for Microsoft Office 365 cloud deployments. It lowers the cost barrier for single sign-on to Active Directory Federation Services so SMEs can enjoy the same service as larger organisations
with on-premises infrastructure. By using Microsoft data centres to deliver ADFS Online worldwide, customers gain security and protection through a financially backed service-level agreement.
Customers get up and running with ADFS Online in less than one hour. Scarfe says: “Less than one hour to deploy ADFS Online compares to between five and 20 days with a traditional on-premises implementation of Microsoft Office 365.”
Cloud services model helps Dot Net Solutions earn annuity revenue. The operational expenditure financial model offered by ADFS Online is proving popular with Microsoft customers because there are no capital costs involved. Scarfe says: “For
us, it means recurring annuity revenue instead of one-off professional services revenue for implementing an on-premises solution.”
Windows Azure and System Center 2012 deliver high degree of automation. The automated, end-to-end provisioning of Active Directory Federation Services demonstrates the level of automation that’s possible with Microsoft System Center 2012
and its Service Manager and Orchestrator features.
ADFS Online is easily customised for private environments. ADFS Online is based on standard Windows Server 2012 and Active Directory Federation Services. Scarfe says: “This means it’s quick and simple for us to customise platforms to suit
client needs. However complex the configuration, we will still support it and deliver it back to the customer as a service.”
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