In May 2013, Portal Solutions began work on its AuthentiMate application after learning about Windows Azure Active Directory, which provides identity management and access control capabilities for cloud-based applications. Portal Solutions designed AuthentiMate so that external parties can connect to SharePoint environments by using their existing LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo, Google+, or Microsoft Live ID credentials. “We could see the identity management trend moving from occurring locally to occurring online, and we realized that Windows Azure Active Directory would accelerate our development process because it already contained all the building blocks that we needed,” says Val Orekhov, Chief Architect at Portal Solutions.
The choice to use Windows Azure Active Directory was a deliberate one for Portal Solutions. The firm has been an Amazon Web Services customer in the past but found that Windows Azure Active Directory was the right solution because it helped solve a specific problem. “Some identity providers are almost too comprehensive, with customers paying for much more than they need,” says Hinton. “We feel as though Windows Azure Active Directory fits perfectly into our strategy of finding robust components to replace the custom development that we used to do.”
By August 2013, Portal Solutions had started a pilot program for AuthentiMate, using 25 of its own customers and partners to test the solution. External users register credentials in as little as three clicks, using existing passwords for easier management.
As of November 2013, the firm has three pilot customers, each with many external contacts using AuthentiMate, and it expects the solution to be in full production by early 2014. Those customers can grant access to specific information for a defined period of time, and they receive audit reports about the content that external parties can access. Portal Solutions plans to make it possible for customers to connect their external contacts to solutions beyond those based on SharePoint, such as SkyDrive Pro and other file-sharing services.