Using Enterprise AD Credentials to Manage Azure Access Control Service

ACS is Azure’s Access Control Service. It is a cloud based Secure Token Service (STS). With the recent advent of Windows Azure Active Directory and ACS being offered for free, I am envisioning more and more enterprises beginning to leverage these services.

Typically, when you create a Azure ACS namespace, you login with a Windows Live ID and create/delete/manage services. However, if you have an Identity and Access Management team in your enterprise, you may want to have a bit more control over who can manage ACS and also ensure that they are using their AD credentials rather people’s personal Windows Live accounts. This is now completely possible using on premise ADFS.

This post assumes you have built out and installed an ADFS infrastructure and are familiar with adding Relying Parties and using claims.

To create a new ACS namespace, you will need to go to, log in to the portal, and then click on your name and choose Previous Portal.


In the old portal, you can manage Service Bus, Access Control, and caching.


Click on there and create a new ACS Namespace. Once the namespace is created, you can go in and manage “Identity Providers”

Typically, this is allowing you to add ID Providers that you will use to authenticate users to your Relying Parties. Live ID is there by default, and you can add more like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo!


The one you need here is WS-Federation ID Provider (ADFS 2.0)

From there you can give the URL of your ADFS federation metadata. It is typically something like

You must also add ACS as a Relying Party to your ADFS instance as well to establish a trust.

Now that you have added your ADFS service as a Trusted Identity Provider, you can use ADFS to authenticate your relying parties.

However, that is not the end goal in this scenario. We want to set up ACS so that we can log in to the management portal with our Active Directory Credentials. Here’s what else you need to do.

In ACS, to to Administration and choose Add Administrator


The one thing you will need to do is specify the claim and value that has permission to manage the portal.

I would suggest you use a Role claim and then in ADFS on your side, you can map a group in AD to that role claim.

Here’s the role claim


The value you specify is the value of the claim you set in ADFS when you add the claim rule to map a claim to a Group Membership. An example would be Domain\ACSAdministrators

To test this out, you should add yourself to the ACSAdministrators group you created and then try and authenticate to the management URL for your ACS Namespace. It will be something like From there, you will be prompted for which ID Provider you want to log in with. Choose your ADFS provider, log in with your corporate credentials, and you will have access to manage ACS.

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