Microsoft Entra External ID is here

17 May 2024
Dave Downs, Solutions Architect at Condatis

Originally announced at Microsoft Build in 2023, the teams at Microsoft have spent the last year busily working away on Entra External ID, which aims to provide a new customer-focused identity and access management (CIAM) solution as part of a push to consolidate all their identity products under the Entra umbrella.

We’ve seen External ID develop in public preview over the last few months, and as announced by Microsoft, External ID was scheduled to go GA on the 15th May, ready for production use.

Dave Downs, Solutions Architect at Condatis, explores everything you need to know about Microsoft Entra External ID.

What is Entra External ID? 

Entra External ID is two separate products under one name:  

External ID in workforce tenants is the product formerly known as Azure AD B2B. It allows you to share access to your Entra ID tenant, and the resources it secures, with your partners who maintain users outside of your organisation. External ID in workforce tenants isn’t changing as part of this release. You don’t need to make any changes if you already use it. The product has just been added to the External ID family. 

External ID in external tenants is the new product Microsoft has been developing that’s now being released under GA. It allows you to provide identity and access management for your customers in a separate Entra tenant, isolated from your organisation’s Entra ID tenant. External ID in external tenants is under active development at Microsoft, and so its feature set is expected to grow quickly, but some of the features you can take advantage of at launch include: 

    • Self-service sign-up and sign-in with email and password, or using email and a one-time passcode 
    • Social sign-in using Facebook and Google 
    • Multi-factor authentication via email 
    • Conditional Access 
    • Token customisation 
    • Branding customisation 
    • Support for SAML2 service providers and OpenID Connect relying parties 

If you’re looking for an identity solution that consolidates customer identities across a range of applications, that builds on Microsoft’s global-scale Entra platform, and that’s easy to set up and manage, External ID may be the product for you. 

For those already familiar with Entra and Microsoft’s identity products for customers, you may notice a lot of overlap with another Microsoft product, Azure AD B2C. That’s because External ID in external tenants is intended as a direct replacement for Azure AD B2C, allowing you to manage your customer users in a similar manner as you would with B2C but with much simpler configuration options that are more in line with the modern Entra platform.

What does this mean for Azure AD B2C? 

Azure AD B2C has a lot of life left in it yet and is likely going to be around for years to come to ensure you can properly plan for, and execute, a managed migration to External ID. 

You can still continue using Azure AD B2C to build out your CIAM provision; however, there’s no better time than now to start planning a migration, and External ID can bring many benefits in terms of reduced complexity and future-facing support from Microsoft.

We can help 

Making the best use of new technologies can be difficult, especially if it requires a migration away from an established platform. At Condatis, we live and breathe all things identity and have a long track record of working with Entra and Azure AD B2C, so we’re perfectly placed to help you get to grips with External ID and how to make it work for your business. 

If you have an existing Azure AD B2C solution and want to start planning how you might migrate to External ID, we can help. 

If you have an existing identity solution outside Entra and want to move to External ID to better utilise Microsoft Azure and the Entra stack, we can help. 

If you just want to know more about how External ID can work for you to consolidate all your customers’ identities into one easy-to-manage location, we can help there too. 

Our teams of identity experts can run workshops with your key stakeholders to understand and refine your requirements; we can work with you to develop migration plans that transition as seamlessly as possible between identity systems; and we can deliver Entra-based identity solutions that can be as complex or as simple as your needs require.

Are you interested in discussing how Microsoft Entra External ID can benefit you? Book a briefing call with our team.