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Identity Change: Microsoft rename Azure AD and introduce Security Service Edge (SSE)

Steven Connelly

Head of Identity

Published: 12 July 2023

Microsoft have announced big news regarding the future of their identity and access management (IAM) services. This includes a name change for Azure AD and a huge update to its Identity Governance offering.

In its biggest update since the launch of Entra in early 2022, Microsoft revealed significant changes at their ‘Reimagine Secure Access with Entra’ event, designed to shake up the IAM landscape.

With the focus firmly on a future of secure digital access, robust identity controls, and better digital experiences, the announcements included:

  • Flagship IAM solution Azure AD will be renamed Entra ID
  • The launch of Security Service Edge (SSE)
  • Updates to Entra Identity Protection
  • An expansion to Entra ID Governance

Here’s what we know so far.

Farewell Azure AD, hello Entra ID

It’s a significant name change.

Azure AD is widely known as a best-in-class cloud-based IAM solution. A market-leader used by more than 300,000 organisations worldwide.

By re-naming to Entra ID, it places it firmly in the heart of their Entra family of identity products. And affirms their commitment to providing a market-leading multi-cloud, brand agnostic IAM solution.

A full suite of (expanding) products to help organisations meet all their IAM objectives and challenges.

From security, compliance, and governance, to credentials, permissions, and lifecycle management.

For the end user and organisation, Microsoft has said that no action is required, with the name change occurring gradually between now and the end of the year.

The current Microsoft Entra products

  • Entra ID
  • Entra ID Governance
  • Entra Permissions Management
  • Entra Workload Identities
  • Entra Verified ID

But it seems like that is about to expand further.

Introducing Security Service Edge (SSE)

Microsoft’s vision for a more holistic approach to identity and access is taking their solutions beyond the traditional directory management and authentication.

Obviously these remain important pillars for IAM. But increasingly mobile, remote, and flexible work patterns demands that permitted identities have ultra-secure access to apps and resources. From anywhere, on any device, at any time.

This is the motivation behind the unveiling of SSE.

It comprises of two products:

  • Microsoft Entra Internet Access: An identity-centric Secure Web Gateway that protects access to internet, software as a service (SaaS), and Microsoft 365 apps and resources.
  • Microsoft Entra Private Access: An identity-centric Zero Trust Network Access that secures access to private apps and resources.

The products offer alternative network security solutions to traditional VPNs. Where security posture and user experience can be compromised by the weight of increased traffic on a VPN, the new products offer faster, slicker, and more secure experiences.

Promising digital environments that engender trust and drive better productivity.

Keep posted to our news pages, as we’ll be bringing you further updates about SSE’s capabilities in the coming days.

Applying Machine Learning to Identity Protection

It was also revealed that the expanded use of machine learning and AI is also coming to Microsoft Entra ID Protection (previously Azure AD Identity Protection).

This will enable the product to quickly identify sign-in anomalies and other security signals to deliver a more proactive approach to protecting against identity breach. Allowing organisations the ability to block, challenge, or limit access in real-time, significantly decreasing the risk.

To enhance and simplify management, Entra ID Protection provides a new dashboard offering instant and comprehensive overviews of risk patterns, activities, and current security posture.

Changes to Identity Governance

The announcement also confirmed some significant upgrades to Microsoft’s Entra ID Governance offering.

Strong identity governance is an essential ingredient of any robust IAM. It’s the way that you ensure the right people have the right access to the right tools, at the right time.

With Entra ID Governance, Microsoft are now offering an extensive set of tools designed to meet all governance challenges and help organisations meet their compliance obligations.

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ID Governance extends the market-leading identity and access management platform in Entra ID


Public preview items becoming part of ID Governance

Current P2 Entra ID (Azure AD) licence holders will have had a chance to access a range of governance features via public preview.

These being:

  • Identity Workflows
  • Access Package Logic Apps
  • Access Package Auto Assignment
  • Access Package Verifiable Credentials
  • Access Review User-to-Group Affiliation

Released into general availability (GA) from June 2023, these features now become core components of Entra ID Governance.

In addition, the expanded platform will also include new, cutting-edge features, such as:

  • Machine learning access review recommendations
  • No code / low code approach for extensibility
  • Automated lifecycle workflows
  • Entitlement management with Verified ID

The platform also provides a new dashboard offering a ‘comprehensive and actionable overview of the current state of the organisation’s identity governance.’

Entra ID Governance promises to offer organisations an advanced, future-proof set of features to simplify and enhance governance tasks and management.

Improving safety, compliance, and productivity in both the short and long-term.

Changes to licences?

Staying broadly in line with Azure AD licence bands, the new licencing for Entra ID will look as follows:

  • Entra ID Free
  • Entra ID P1
  • Entra ID P2

To access the governance features listed, users will have to purchase a new Entra ID Governance licence. This will be available as an add-on to the P1 or P2 licence.

So, what does this mean for current P2 licence holders who have had preview access to some of the features?

Microsoft have announced that these features will remain accessible for now, but eventually a new licence will be required.

This should allow organisations time to plan and budget for any appropriate transition.

You can find out more about the different licences for Entra ID at the Microsoft website.

Entra and the future of IAM

Managing identities and controlling access to data, resources, and applications is a critical facet of any organisation.

As such, Microsoft are investing heavily in their full suite of products within the identity and access arena.

Entra ID sits at the core of their offering, supported by tools to drive excellence and efficiency in governance, compliance, and security.

And now, it seems, also with the promise of expanded digital safe spaces, secure networks, and seamless online experiences.

Of course, all technology changes come with a need for careful consideration by end users and organisations.

At Kocho, we come with decades of experience in identity and access management, and a team of experts at the forefront of modern, customer-centric solutions.

So, to find out more about IAM changes, how they may affect you, or to discuss the best solution for your business, get in touch today.

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  • Reduce data breach risk by 45%
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Steven Connelly

Steven Connelly is Kocho’s Head of Identity. As the Head of Identity, he navigates the ever-evolving landscape of digital authentication and security, delivering the best identity solutions for our clients.

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