Time for another feature release for Windows Azure! Microsoft has made it a habit of adding new options for its cloud platform on a regular basis, and this new one should please both IT professionals and end users.

Multi-factor authentication is has now hit general availability, and this powerful security capability is available for pretty much all applications that use the cloud infrastructure.

In a short blog post, the company announced the news and how this feature works:

“Multi-Factor Authentication quickly enables an additional layer security for users signing in from around the globe. In addition to a username and password, users may authenticate via: 1) An application on their mobile device. 2) Automated voice call. 3) Text message with a passcode. It’s easy and meets user demand for a simple sign-in experience.”

As detailed above, it works quite similar to other places that have employed two-factor authentication. A person signs in with their usual username and password, but then has to authenticate either via an app on their mobile device, an automated voice call or text message with a passcode.

It is available for on-premise virtual private networks, web applications running on an existing hardware or in a Windows Azure machine. Synchronization options with Windows Server Active Directory for automated user set up are also on offer.

Two pricing options are presented — $2 per user per month or $2 for 10 authentications.

In fact, this advanced form of authentication is all the rage these days, what with the enhanced focus on security. Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine already offer it, and more cloud providers are expected to do so over the next several months.

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