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what is microsoft entra ID?

Published: July 26, 2023
Updated: May 29, 2024
In a nutshell:
Microsoft have renamed its cloud-based identity provider from Azure Active Directory to Entra ID. Alongside this announcement, Microsoft also introduced Entra Internet Access and Entra Private Access services, which are currently available for public preview.
"There are some very interesting developments coming our way around securing access to our cloud resources”

Microsoft have renamed its cloud-based identity provider from Azure Active Directory to Microsoft Entra ID.

Alongside this announcement, Microsoft also introduced Entra Internet Access and Entra Private Access services, which are currently available for public preview.

The purpose of this rebranding effort by the tech giant is to streamline the product names and create a cohesive product family. It’s important to note that despite the name change, the capabilities, licensing plans, sign-in URLs, and APIs will remain unchanged, ensuring a seamless transition for users.

Entra Internet Access is a secure web gateway that focuses on providing identity-based protection for internet access, SaaS applications, and Microsoft 365 apps. It achieves this by extending conditional access policies, thereby bolstering security against malicious internet traffic and threats. Additionally, it offers improved visibility and access to Microsoft 365 apps. The preview version of Entra Internet Access is currently available for Microsoft 365 scenarios, and the full capabilities, covering all internet traffic and SaaS applications, will be released later this year.

Entra Private Access

Entra Private Access is a zero-trust network access solution that places a strong emphasis on identity-based security for private applications and resources. It allows users to securely connect to private apps regardless of their location or device, across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, private networks, and data centres. Microsoft Entra Private Access is currently in preview mode. Its primary objectives are to simplify operations, reduce costs by replacing traditional VPNs, and provide enhanced security through features like multifactor authentication, device compliance controls and conditional access.

In today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape, relying solely on either identity or network security is insufficient to safeguard the diverse access points and scenarios that modern organisations encounter. Recognising the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks, Microsoft is augmenting their cloud identity solutions by incorporating identity-centric network access capabilities.

By converging controls for identity and network access, Microsoft is enabling the creation of unified Conditional Access policies that extend comprehensive protection and governance to all identities and resources. This integration provides a centralised platform where identities can be safeguarded, verified, permissions managed, and intelligent access policies enforced. Thanks to these developments, protecting your digital assets is easier than ever before, with a single location for comprehensive security measures.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory is becoming Microsoft Entra ID

In May 2022, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Entra suite, comprising three initial products:

Building upon this foundation, the tech powerhouse later expanded the Microsoft Entra family by adding:

Now, Microsoft Entra offers comprehensive protection for any identity and ensures secure access to any resource. It effectively safeguards both on-premises and cloud-based environments, bridging the gap between various cloud platforms. With a unified product family that integrates multi-cloud identity and network access solutions, Microsoft Entra provides a holistic approach to identity and resource security.

Microsoft Entra
Azure AD Free becomes Microsoft Entra ID Free, Azure AD Premium P1 becomes Microsoft Entra ID P1, Azure AD Premium P2 becomes Microsoft Entra ID P2, Azure AD External Identities becomes Microsoft Entra External ID. Service plan name changes take effect on October 1, 2023

Prevent identity takeover in real time

Microsoft Entra ID Protection (formerly Azure AD Identity Protection) has undergone significant enhancements. It now utilises advanced machine learning to proactively identify sign-in anomalies and anomalous user behaviour, allowing real-time blocking, challenging, or limiting of access. A new dashboard provides insights into prevented identity attacks, attack patterns, risk origins, and security posture. It also offers recommendations and highlights the business impact of enforced controls, empowering organisations to enhance their security measures.

Microsoft Entra
New Microsoft Entra ID Protection dashboard.

Automate access governance

Microsoft Entra ID Governance is a complete identity governance solution designed to ensure the right access for every identity to any application. It helps organisations comply with security requirements while improving employee productivity through real-time, self-service, and workflow-based app entitlements. By automating the employee identity lifecycle and providing machine learning-based insights, Entra ID Governance reduces manual work for IT teams. It is a cloud-delivered solution that scales to complex cloud and hybrid environments, supporting both cloud and on-premises applications from any provider. With Entra ID Governance, organisations can achieve effective identity governance, regardless of their application infrastructure.

 New Microsoft Entra ID Governance dashboard.

Personalise and secure access to any application for customers and partners

During the Microsoft Build 2023 event, the tech giant unveiled the preview of developer-centric features in Microsoft Entra External ID. This integrated identity solution caters to external users such as customers, patients, citizens, guests, partners, and suppliers. External ID provides extensive customisation options, Conditional Access capabilities, identity protection features, and support for social identity providers. With user-friendly developer tools, even developers with minimal identity experience can effortlessly create personalised sign-in and sign-up experiences for their applications within a matter of minutes.

Microsoft Entra: Secure access for a connected world

Microsoft Entra

Here’s what our Senior Cloud Engineer, Lewis, has to say about these recent changes from Microsoft:

“I think changing the name from Azure Active Directory to Entra ID is a good idea. For years people have been somewhat confused when they make the transition from on-premise Active Directory to Azure Active Directory only to find out that they are radically different tools.

Entra ID allows Microsoft to redefine their cloud identity provider services, as well as open the door for many new products that follow the same naming convention. There are some very interesting developments coming our way around securing access to our cloud resources”

Lewis Barry, Senior Cloud Engineer

Want to know more about how our team can help you leverage Microsoft technologies to support and secure your business? Get in touch to speak with our Microsoft specialists today.


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