Amid all the noise surrounding the annual IT extravaganza that is TechEd last week, Microsoft announced that Microsoft "Geneva" beta 2 was now available for download.

So what exactly is "Geneva?" Microsoft has been hard at work revamping how identity, access, and security are handled in a business IT environment, and Geneva is a big part of their new approach.

Microsoft is also positioning "Geneva" as a critical piece of their emerging cloud computing strategy, as it will ensure that cross-enterprise collaboration--both on-premise and in the cloud--integrates with existing systems while ensuring that security requirements are being met.

Geneva is an open platform for user access, and is designed to make it easier for IT admins to streamline access to hardware and applications by way of an open claims-based access model. There are three components in the "Geneva" platform, all of which are now available in Beta 2 form:

  • Windows CardSpace "Geneva" helps users make appropriate access decisions amd enables developers to create the right authentication environment for users;
  • The "Geneva" framework provides ready-made .NET security modules for developing "claims-aware applications" for WCF and .NET applications;
  • The "Geneva" Server security token service (STS), which manages user access and issues and modifies claims.

Microsoft is already testing "Geneva" in a number of real-world environments, including the Lake Washington School District in Washingston state. (See a Microsoft video discussing that deployment here.)

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