Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces a number deep changes to the way that AD FS works, which means that as practitioners, we need to look for solutions to problems in new, unexpected places. For instance, in the old world, if AD FS was completely unresponsive, the first place I would look after AD FS itself would be IIS. In AD FS 2012 R2, IIS doesn’t play a role. Requests are still served by the HTTP.SYS kernel driver but we interact with it using NETSH HTTP, which connects to the driver via the User Mode HTTP Server API. IIS and other familiar components would also interact with this API previously, but they provided a friendlier layer of abstraction between an administrator and the API. Interacting with HTTP.SYS using NETSH HTTP brings a learning curve with it, particularly when it comes to understanding what is and is not controlled here. Also, there is no GUI and the security that HTTP.SYS enforces is stricter than the abstracted layer that IIS has historically opened up. This web server architecture change and other new differences add to the difficulty of tracking down problems when things don’t work as expected, as detailed in this post.
After a brief diversion, I’m returning to my series on SharePoint with RMS. This post finishes off the baseline considerations, although there’s a lot more to say. But at last, in this post, we’ve reached the point where we know that RMS thinks I’m cool – so now what? Or if you prefer, I’m taking a look at the RMS Use License that is typically embedded in Microsoft Office documents, or in other cases might be associated with a client’s machine.
The Use License that RMS issues acts like an offline enforcer of allowed rights. The rights granted by RMS and the duration they persist define what a user can do with their offline copy of RMS-protected content and how long they can continue to take those actions before they need to re-visit SharePoint and the RMS infrastructure in order to claim fresh rights. Since rights persistence is defined by the owner(s) of a SharePoint list, the impact of those settings should be well understood by any users that have this control.This post focuses on what a user can do offline once RMS has done its job, and the user’s experience once those rights expire, bringing the tension between valid offline access versus timely rights revocation to the fore.
You will notice I’m talking about offline access a lot here. When I say “offline” in reference to RMS-protected content, I mean the documents that have already been encrypted by RMS and decrypted/opened by a user. I say the files are offline because the original unencrypted content still resides in the SharePoint content database. Any edits that RMS allows a user to make to the offline content need to be saved back to SharePoint if they will persist over time. Continue reading “RMS Use Licenses, Offline Access and Rights Revocation with SharePoint 2010”
When helping our clients with Office 365 deployments, we sometimes find that DirSync has been associated with a trial tenant that is about to expire and/or was originally created with a provisional name, or similar. In any case, a public DNS name can only be verified once in Office 365, which associates that namespace with the Office 365 and Azure AD tenancies. So if we want to move DirSync (which is also a prerequisite for ADFS) to a new tenancy, then we need to back it out from the first tenant and re-associate it with the second. Unfortunately, that process isn’t exceptionally quick, but there are some manual steps that you can carry out in order to accelerate the change. As we do this more often, our list of things to check is growing, so this list may change, but this is where we’re at today. Please feel free to comment if you feel we’re overlooking anything.
Last week, Microsoft released Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview. Some information about new features like the Web Application Proxy role began to emerge from recent industry events, but there isn’t an awful lot to absorb at the moment. Having played around with the preview for a few days, I’m pleased to report that the new features look good. While there are always niggles and unsupported scenarios, the features themselves are bringing Microsoft’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) offerings nearer to parity with the industry leaders. These changes should be of particular interest for SharePoint on-premises and Office 365 customers, as a number of scenarios that were on the bleeding edge of ADFS/UAG capabilities have been brought into the fold with some important enhancements to ADFS, which isn’t just for federation anymore.
In short, we get a new Claims-Aware Reverse Proxy, Device Claims in and outside of the network, Multiple-Factor Authentication and other enhancements for making access control decisions on more than just a username and password. I’ve discussed all of these topics routinely over the last couple of years in SharePoint on-premises and Office 365 contexts, but the current provisions in ADFS and UAG are not as elegant as what we find in the preview, so I’m keenly exploring the new functionality and will try to keep the content flowing. In this post I will focus on the features themselves, as there’s a lot of new stuff and the implementation of this functionality will only be clear with a bit more information than what you’ll find online today. I’m kind of rushing this out after limited use because I know there’s a big appetite for knowledge about the Microsoft Reverse Proxy roadmap, so apologies for the incompleteness in advance.
Not only is this the thing that I always forget, it’s the thing that I’ve just learned I didn’t really understand. My colleague Ben just absolutely pwned me about an SSL certificate’s “Friendly Name” field and how it’s used when editing SSL binding in IIS. I was certain that Friendly Name couldn’t possibly be related to getting an editable host name field when you bind multiple Web Applications on the same IP address (assuming you have a wildcard certificate to handle this multiplicity). How it works with SAN certificates I don’t really know, but that’s a topic for another post. At any rate, in this case, I was bashing my head because I couldn’t get an editable Host Name field for my newly-extended Web Application:
As this series of posts about SharePoint 2010 with Rights Management moves on, it moves further from SharePoint. In this post I’m describing the final steps in the RMS protection process, where RMS authenticates the requesting user and authorises actions with RMS-protected content.
In most configurations, RMS will rely on its internal AD Cache to reduce the number of LDAP queries for user attributes or Active Directory group membership. RMS typically queries this cache when users request a license. If RMS finds a matching e-mail address for a user, the allowed rights will be granted in a Use License, which will persist inside a document or on a user’s machine until the rights expire. LDAP queries are only issued if cached values don’t exist or if they have expired. After an LDAP query is issued, the response is used to process the immediate request and the values are stored in the AD Cache for later use.
Although this caching process should “just work” initially, there are a number of tiers where user information can fall out of sync. First and foremost, does the signed-on user have an e-mail address in Active Directory that matches the SharePoint User Information List? What happens if this e-mail address changes, or if it didn’t match initially? How can we invalidate stale AD Cache values? How long does the AD Cache persist? What’s in it? What needs to be considered when turning it off? In many cases the default AD Cache values will be suitable, but operational processes should be orchestrated with AD Cache settings in mind, whatever they may be. Cache invalidation processes should also be understood before they need to be invoked. I will explore these considerations in more detail here.
In the previous posts in this series about SharePoint 2010 with Rights Management, I’ve been looking at the user information requirements to successfully bridge gaps between SharePoint and RMS. In this post I will focus on a poorly documented RMS configuration requirement that is often overlooked and seems to cause many deployment headaches. This is the point of contact where SharePoint first requests RMS.
In this series of posts on SharePoint with RMS, I’ve mostly focused on the ways things might go wrong if Active Directory data, User Profiles and User Information Lists are misaligned. Now, assuming SharePoint has a reliable Work E-mail value for a user, there are still a number of things that happen between the initiation of a request for RMS-protected content and interaction with it. In this post I will inspect a successful request for RMS-protected content from SharePoint 2010.
Continuing this series about the SharePoint 2010 IRM implementation, in this post I’ll keep looking at the Work E-mail Address attribute in the User Information List, but focus specifically on how the initial value in that field gets populated from different sources for different Authentication Provider Types. As with the fuller picture considered in the last post, this is a lot more complicated than anyone would expect at a glance, but it’s really the lynchpin of this functionality – thus the depth here.
I’ve been working from home a bit more lately, and with that, I’ve been fine-tuning how I work. For instance, I’ve been using the “Use all my monitors” setting in order to stretch my remote desktop session across two screens. In Windows 8 this is a big improvement, as your monitors can be different resolutions and it supports that just as if you were at your desk.