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Configure Active Directory membership provider

Describes how to set up an Active Directory membership provider.

Use Active Directory for authorization and authentication together with Optimizely Content Management System (CMS). The .NET Framework has an Active Directory membership provider which is used together with the CMS Active Directory role provider.


  • A Windows ActiveDirectory domain.
  • A web server running CMS.
  • Port 389 and 445 on the AD server must be open in the firewall.
  • The username must be entered as xxx@domain, not just xxx.

The web server with CMS does not have to be a member of the Active Directory domain. It uses a configured service account to communicate with the Active Directory domain controller.


Active Directory membership provider

To configure your site, add the following in the <membership><providers> section of web.config:

<add name="ActiveDirectoryMembershipProvider"
     type="System.Web.Security.ActiveDirectoryMembershipProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"
     attributeMapUsername="sAMAccountName" />

Modify connectionUsername and connectionPassword and insert values for a user account with appropriate privileges. See the ActiveDirectoryMembershipProvider class for security issues.

Basically any authenticated user account has the necessary permissions (the Authenticated Users group in its default configuration gives the appropriate permissions). If your Active Directory is reconfigured and the default permissions are changed, you must make sure that the account has the following permissions to all groups and users that are part of the subtree that the connection string refers to:

Object permissionRead all properties
Object permissionList contents
Properties permissionRead all properties
Properties permissionRead group name (pre-Windows 2000)
Properties permissionRead groupAttributes
Properties permissionRead memberOf
Properties permissionRead members

You also should add a connection string to the <connectionStrings> section that defines how the membership provider connects to the Active Directory.

An example:

<add name="ActiveDirectoryProviderConnection" 
     connectionString="LDAP://domain.mycompany.local" />

See the ActiveDirectoryMembershipProvider class for the connection string and configuration parameters.

If you create a new user in an Active Directory domain, you will actually have two different user names:

In the default configuration of the Membership provider shown above, the membership provider authenticates with User Principal Names. If you want to authenticate with the Windows Logon Name instead, add the attribute attributeMapUsername="sAMAccountName" to the provider configuration.



If you decide to switch the type of user name, you lose all profile information for the users and any user-specific access rights that were set. (Access rights assigned at the group level remain intact.)

If you need to troubleshoot the LDAP connection with a network monitor you might want to enable unsecure communication with the Active Directory server to see the communication in clear text. Enable unsecure communication by adding the attribute connectionProtection="None".

Active Directory role provider

To configure your site, add the following to the <roleManager><providers> section of web.config:

<add name="ActiveDirectoryRoleProvider"
     type="EPiServer.Security.ActiveDirectoryRoleProvider, EPiServer.Cms.AspNet"
     attributeMapUsername="sAMAccountName" />

The required attributes shown above are intentionally identical to the attributes for the Active Directory membership provider. In most cases, you can and should use the same AD account and connection string for both the membership and role providers.

Modify the DOMAIN\ADServiceAccount and password and insert values for a user account with appropriate privileges.

The role names used by default are the Windows domain compatible names (shown below as pre-Windows 2000 group name). You can use the attribute attributeMapUsername to choose another attribute for role name if you want to. Some possibilities are "cn" (which will be the Group name as shown below) or "distinguishedName" (which will be the fully qualified name such as CN=EPiServerUsers,DC=domain,DC=mycompany,DC=local). The default value is "sAMAccountName".

To be compatible with the Active Directory membership provider, the default user name mapping is the user principal name, in other words user names in the form [email protected]_. To change it into the standard Windows user name, add the attribute attributeMapUsername="sAMAccountName".

For troubleshooting purposes, use the connectionProtection attribute. Set connectionProtection="None" for clear-text authentication and communication.

The Active Directory data is aggressively cached by the role provider. You can control the cache expiration with the attribute cacheTimeout. For example setting cacheTimeout="1:30:0" sets the timeout to 1 hour 30 minutes. The default is 10 minutes.