Active Directory Federation Services

Active Directory Federation Services

ADFS, or Active Directory Federation Services, is a software component developed by Microsoft that provides users with single sign-on access to systems and applications located across organizational boundaries.

To explain it in simple terms, let’s use an example:

Imagine you work for a company (Company A) that has partnered with another company (Company B). As part of your job, you need to use a specific application that belongs to Company B. Instead of having to remember a separate set of username and password for that application, with ADFS, you can use your own Company A’s credentials to access it. This is possible because Company A and Company B trust each other to authenticate their respective users, and this trust is established through ADFS.

Now, let’s take a more technical example:

Suppose you’re using Office 365 (a cloud service) and your credentials are stored in your company’s on-premises Active Directory. When you try to log in to Office 365, instead of prompting you for a separate username and password, it redirects you to your organization’s ADFS server. This server authenticates your credentials against the Active Directory and if valid, sends a token back to Office 365 indicating that you’re an authenticated user. Office 365 trusts the token issued by your ADFS server and allows you to access the services.

In a nutshell, ADFS simplifies access to systems and applications across organizational boundaries through a process called federation, which involves trust between the organizations. It also helps to reduce the number of usernames and passwords that users have to remember and manage.

Here are a few alternatives to Microsoft’s Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS):

1. Okta: Okta is a popular identity and access management solution that provides secure access to cloud applications and services. It supports single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and lifecycle management.

2. OneLogin: This is another cloud-based identity and access management solution that provides single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and directory integration with AD or LDAP.

3. Ping Identity: Ping Identity offers a comprehensive suite of identity services like single signon, multi-factor authentication, and access security. It provides secure and seamless access to all applications.

4. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD): Microsoft’s cloud-based identity solution provides single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and integrates with thousands of SaaS applications.

5. Auth0: Auth0 provides a platform to authenticate and authorize applications and APIs. It supports single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and social login capabilities.

6. IBM Security Access Manager: This solution offers user access management and web access management throughout the user’s digital journey. It is designed to support mobile

and cloud environments alongside traditional web applications.

Remember, the right solution depends on your specific needs and the IT environment of your organization