Amazon takes aim atMicrosoft’s ActiveDirectory with newservice

Amazon Web Services wants to become a more
central part of enterprise IT with the AWS Directory
Service, which both competes and integrates with
Microsoft’s Active Directory.
With the lure of easier management, Amazon hopes
CIOs are willing to trust it with one of their most
important applications, the directory. Amazon has
been adding all the pieces organizations need to run
a complete IT infrastructure in its datacenters,
including servers, databases, desktops and now a
directory.
The directory is an important addition because of
the central position it has. Virtually every
organization uses a directory service such as
Active Directory to allow computers to join domains;
list and authenticate users; and to locate and
connect to printers, as well as other network
services including SQL Server databases, Amazon
said.
Because of the importance of the directory, the
company will likely find it difficult to compete head-
on with Microsoft in the short term. But the ability to
integrate with Active Directory is a good first step.
For companies that want to connect Active
Directory with Amazon’s cloud, there is AD
Connector, which lets users and IT staff use their
existing corporate credentials to log on to Amazon’s
applications. AD Connector uses Virtual Private
Cloud with a hardware VPN connection or a
dedicated AWS Direct Connect connection to
communicate.
The stand-alone version is called Simple AD and is
based on Samba 4 Active Directory Compatible
Server. The list of features includes user accounts,
group memberships, Kerberos-based single sign-
on, and group policies. They make it easier to
manage cloud-based Windows applications,
according to Amazon.
Many of the applications and tools in use today that
require Active Directory support can instead be
used with Simple AD. User accounts stored in
Simple AD can also be used to access Amazon’s
own applications, including the WorkSpaces desktop
and the AWS Management Console, the company
said.
Because the directory has such a central role, high
availability will be very important. Amazon hopes
running directories across multiple so-called
Availability Zones will be enough to convince CIOs
that Simple AD and AD Connector can cut it.
The competition between Amazon and Microsoft
has been heating up. Simple AD competes with
Azure Active Directory, the cloud-based version of
Microsoft’s directory. Amazon’s expansion comes
after Microsoft earlier this week launched Cloud
Platform System (CPS) , which makes it easier to
build hybrid clouds that mix public cloud and on-
premise systems.
Microsoft as well as the likes of Cisco Systems,
Hewlett-Packard, Rackspace and VMware are all
trying to counteract the success Amazon has seen
by pushing the need for hybrid clouds.
Simple AD and AD Connector come in small and
large versions.
The small version of AD Connector is for directories
of up to 10,000 users, computers, groups and other
directory objects and costs US$0.05 per hour or
$36.50 per month. The large version is for up to
100,000 directory objects and costs $0.15 per hour
or $109.50 per month.
For Simple AD, the small version is for up to 1000
directory objects and costs US$0.05 per hour or
$36.50 per month, while the large version is for up
to 10,000 directory objects and costs $0.15 per
hour or $109.50 per month.
Simple AD and AD Connector are currently available
from Amazon’s datacenters in North Virginia,
Oregon, Ireland, Sydney and Tokyo.

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