Azure AD B2B or B2C? Which one is for me?

14 February 2022

Today we’re breaking down two Microsoft products, and helping you understand the difference. There are many questions surrounding B2B and B2C; What do each offer? Which one fits my business? Need answers? You’re right where you need to be!

In this article, we explore the capabilities of both Azure Active Directory B2B and Azure Active Directory B2C, highlighting key differences, and ultimately giving you a comprehensive understanding of these Microsoft products.

We’ll start with a basic overview of both. Microsoft Azure B2B’s primary use is to enable collaboration with Microsoft 365 applications and authorise users, from partners to suppliers, regardless of the identity provider. Whilst Microsoft Azure B2C’s primary use it to support customer transactions through customised applications.

Let’s discuss the capabilities of Microsoft Azure B2B in more depth

B2B is a feature of Azure AD which ultimately supports employees, partners, and any internal users. The purpose of B2B is to provide a system that allows for shared access to enterprise applications.

This Microsoft feature is very popular for its collaborative element. With easy access for both employee and partner work accounts, regardless of their email address. The element of easy access continues through B2B, with employee and partner IDs managed through the same directory. This means everyone in the directory can be added to the same groups and applications. Delving a little deeper into the technicalities, a main feature of Azure AD B2B is Single Sign-On (SSO). As well as SSO, all Azure Directory apps are accessible with B2B.

For some readers, the security of shared applications might be a concern, so let’s understand the security aspect a little further. In a nutshell, the lifecycles are managed by the host or inviting organisation, otherwise referred to as ‘Azure AD B2B collaboration’. This addresses the problem of sharing your applications with external users and is a feature of Azure AD rather than a standalone service.

Okay, so what does Microsoft Azure AD B2C offer?

Azure AD B2C primarily supports customer transactions on customised apps. A key difference with B2C is that it is not a feature of Azure AD, instead, it is a standalone service – but based on Azure AD technology.

Azure AD B2C is an authentication solution, but instead of sharing access like B2B, it is intended for end-users. Azure AD B2C takes the authentication process a step further, enhancing security through custom policies that give you control over how customers sign-up and sign in to your applications. Unlike the inability to ‘sign up’ when using B2B, B2C uses Multi-Factor Authentication to verify users, creating a secure and trusted digital experience.

Azure AD B2C’s flexibility is extremely desirable. Let’s take an example, customers of banking organisations may need to log in to an online portal to view their data and documentation. Azure AD B2C allows the company to verify the customers’ ID using custom policies. An API is implemented during the sign-up process. Using Azure AD B2C’s One-Time Passcode functionality, an identity check can be run to confirm to the API that the user is legitimate.

For more information on API’s and custom policies, check out this webinar from Technical Lead, Dave Downs and Architect, David Manning.

5 key differences between Azure AD B2B AND B2C

Azure AD B2C is a separate service from Azure AD.

First things first, it’s important to remember, Azure AD B2C is a separate service from Azure AD. Yes, it is built on the same technology, but it is still separate, however, Azure AD B2B is indeed a feature of Azure AD. In B2B the authenticated user will be on your AD. In B2C the customer user will be on a separate B2C AD.

The user management factor is also completely different.

With Azure AD B2B, the host is in full control of the system, but with Azure AD B2C, customers have the ability and control to self-serve.

Customisation is an essential feature amongst many businesses.

There are differences with Azure AD B2B and B2C when it comes to customisation. With B2B, the hosting organisation’s branding is automatically applied, whereas, with B2C, the branding and customisation sit within the application’s team.

API Integration for customer journeys is much more flexible on B2C.

As touched on above with APIs, this is something B2B has now introduced with customer journeys however this has been a feature of B2C for some time and features a lot more flexibility to it.

The final key difference is the supported forms of identity, and where they are managed.

With Azure AD B2B, the system is accessible for any employee, supplier, and partner with work accounts. These accounts are all managed together in one big directory. As for Azure AD B2C, any customers with accounts for local applications or from external identity providers such as Facebook and LinkedIn are supported, as well as any independent trusted federations. These accounts are managed through the application directory and are separate from any external directories.

Both products are developing constantly, stay up to date by following Microsoft’s tech community blogs. The continuous developments of both B2B and B2C may see them come together in the future, but the future is now with Condatis and ITC Secure.

Want the best of both worlds? Tell us what you’re looking for

Azure AD B2C offers the most flexibility, but it might be B2B you’re looking for, or maybe both, and with Condatis and ITC Secure, you can now get the best of both worlds with our comprehensive internal and external identity management solution.