AWS Blog

Federation with ADFS in Windows Server 2008

As I’ve talked with customers who have deployed or plan to deploy Windows Server 2008 instances on Amazon EC2, one feature they commonly inquire about is Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). There seems to be a lot of interest in ADFS v2 with its support for WS-Federation and Windows Identity Foundation. These capabilities are fully supported in our Windows Server 2008 AMIs and will work with applications developed for both the “public” side of AWS and those you might run on instances inside Amazon VPC.

I’d like to get a better sense of how you might use ADFS. When you state that you need “federation,” what are you wanting to do? I imagine most scenarios involve applications on Amazon EC2 instances obtaining tokens from an ADFS server located inside your corporate network. This makes sense when your users are in your own domains and the applications running on Amazon EC2 are yours.

Another scenario involves a forest living entirely inside Amazon EC2. Imagine you’ve created the next killer SaaS app. As customers sign up, you’d like to let them use their own corpnet credentials rather than bother with creating dedicated logons (your customers will love you for this). You’d create an application domain in which you’d deploy your application, configured to trust tokens only from the application’s ADFS. Your customers would configure their ADFS servers to issue tokens not for your application but for your application domain ADFS, which in turn issues tokens to your application. Signing up new customers is now much easier.

What else do you have in mind for federation? How will you use it? Feel free to join the discussion. I’ve started a thread on the forums, please add your thoughts there. I’m looking forward to some great ideas.

> Steve <