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AWS taps social networks for identity verification

Log in with Amazon, Facebook, Google, to your cloudy app

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Amazon Web Services makes most of its money out of its infrastructure services, but that isn't stopping Bezos & Co from trying to broaden the remit of their cloud.

One way to make AWS more attractive to devs (and thus use more services) is to have them build entire web sites on top of AWS, and to do this Amazon needs to produce technologies that solve major headaches, like social identity management.

The AWS Identity and Access Management service now supports log-ins from Google, Facebook or Amazon.com identities, the company announced in a blog post on Tuesday.

"Web identity federation enables your users to sign in to your app using their Amazon.com, Facebook, or Google identity and authorize them to seamlessly access AWS resources that are managed under your AWS account," Jeff Wierer, AWS's principal product manager for Identity and Access Management, wrote.

"If you are building a mobile or a client-based application, you can now integrate these three popular identity providers and authorize users without any server-side code and without distributing long-term credentials with the app."

The technology introduces a new Security Token Service API command AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity which requests a temporary security credential for customers who have been authenticated via Amazon.com, Facebook, or Google.

AWS Identity

Identity federation lets you sandbox social users

This lets developers give users a temporary pass which allows them to fiddle with AWS cloud resources without the developer needing to write a sophisticated backend to accommodate them.

Some example applications that can be built with the service include giving users the ability to log-in to an app, create a web avatar and upload it into the application's S3 storage.

Though the service looks to be handy for developers it also introduces a trade-off in forcing encouraging them to write more AWS-specific apps that can make use of the Identity Management suite – something major AWS developers are unlikely to sweat over, but which could introduce problems for application portability should they ever choose to migrate away from Bezos & Co's cloud. ®

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