Amazon helps customers manage cloud access

Andrew Kellett/Ovum
05 Nov 2014

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the introduction of the AWS Directory Service (AWS DS).

AWS DS consists of two directory components: AD Connector and Simple AD, and this new credential-based service has been developed to enable customers to seamlessly connect users’ corporate identities to the AWS Cloud.

AWS plans to manage multiple accounts and their identity-based credentials from the cloud. AWS already has more than 40 web-based services available for customers that want to use its two cloud-based directory services.

For clients that wish to continue to use on-premise directories, AWS AD Connector offers gateway technology in the form of a cloud proxy to the customer’s existing directory. It automatically addresses single sign-on (SSO) synchronization and federated sign-on issues, and secure connectivity is handled using VPN connections from within the Amazon virtual private cloud infrastructure.

Simple AD provides a managed, standalone directory alternative from within AWS. The service offers Microsoft Active Directory (AD) compatibility for most common AD features, and allows clients to provision and run a Samba-based directory/network file system from the cloud. It delivers support for SSO-powered apps and EC2 instances that support Windows.

Across the two approaches, customer benefits include enabling users to access AWS applications using common SSO credentials, and providing IT admins with facilities to manage AWS resources from a single-source management console. Meanwhile, in the near future, AWS expects to enable automatic domain joins for EC2 Windows to simplify the management of Windows workloads in AWS.

Once established, this is expected to be a very high-volume, low-margin business. Pricing starts from an hourly usage rate of $0.05 for small directories and $0.15 for large directories. There are two small sticking points: these usage rates refer only to the North American prices and can vary for other regions, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of the boundaries between small and large directories.

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