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Series On Available Authentication Mechanisms For OData Services And Clients

by Dilip Krishnan on Jul 24, 2010 |

The WCF Data Services Team have recently been doing a series on the available authentication mechanisms for client/OData service authentication. OData is an implementation of the ATOMPub protocol with extensions to query and update ATOM resources. From the OData website.

The Open Data Protocol (OData) is a Web protocol for querying and updating data that provides a way to unlock your data and free it from silos that exist in applications today. OData does this by applying and building upon Web technologies such as HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol(AtomPub) and JSON to provide access to information from a variety of applications, services, and stores. […] OData is being used to expose and access information from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, relational databases, file systems, content management systems and traditional Web sites.

Alex James a Program Manager on the Data Services Team provides a series of articles, in an attempt to field authentication related questions.

  • How do you ‘tunnel’ authentication over the OData protocol?
  • What hooks should I use in the WCF Data Services client and server libraries?

According to Alex the answer lies in specific usage scenarios; each of which addresses a different type of challenge. He frames the answer as a set of questions that provide insights into the appropriate authentication option.

  • How does an OData Consumer logon to an OData Producer?
  • How does a WCF Data Service impersonate the OData Consumer so database queries run under context of the consumer?
  • How do you integrate an OData Consumer connecting with an OAuth aware OData Producer?
  • How do you federate a corporate domain with an OData Producer hosted in the cloud, so apps running under a corporate account can access the OData Producer seamlessly?

Here is an overview of the list of scenarios covered in the series

Windows Authentication – Covers authentication using Windows Credentials. This predominantly supports an intranet-enterprise scenario where the network homogeneity only Windows based servers and clients

Custom Basic Authentication – Covers the case when the basic challenge-response authentication at the infrastructure level (IIS) using a username/password is not sufficient; for e.g. if the user/password store is in a database

Forms Authentication - Covers forms authentication where the method of protection is achieved at the framework level in an IIS hosted ASP.net environment.

ClientSide Hooks – Covers client options when Windows and Basic Authentication doesn’t cut it. “Usually applies if you are using a different authentication scheme, for arguments sake OAuth WRAP, the Credentials property is of no use. You have to get back down to the request and massage the headers directly [e.g. when using] Claims Based Authentication.”

Server Side Hooks – Covers the different OData service hosting options IIS , WCF  or custom host and explores the different ways to implement authentication under each host.

The team is ofcourse looking for feedback on “any Auth scenarios you want [us] to explore. If you’re looking to use OData Services to expose data in a RESTful  fashion thats secure aswell, be sure to check out the series.

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