You can configure VMware Cloud Foundation to use Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) as an external identity provider, instead of using vCenter Single Sign-On. In this configuration, the external identity provider interacts with the identity source on behalf of vCenter Server.

You can only add one external identity provider to VMware Cloud Foundation. Changing the identity provider from vCenter Single Sign-On to AD FS removes any users and groups that you added VMware Cloud Foundation from AD over LDAP or OpenLDAP identity sources. Users and groups from the system domain (for example, vsphere.local) are not impacted.


Active Directory Federation Services requirements:

  • AD FS for Windows Server 2016 or later must already be deployed.
  • AD FS must be connected to Active Directory.
  • You have created a vCenter Server administrators group in AD FS that contains the users you want to grant vCenter Server administrator privileges to.

For more information about configuring AD FS, see the Microsoft documentation.

vCenter Server and other requirements:

  • vSphere 7.0 or later
  • vCenter Server must be able to connect to the AD FS discovery endpoint, and the authorization, token, logout, JWKS, and any other endpoints advertised in the discovery endpoint metadata.


  1. Log in to the SDDC Manager UI as a user with the ADMIN role
  2. In the navigation pane, click Administration > Single Sign On.
  3. Click Identity Provider.
  4. Click Change Identity Provider and select ADFS.
    Menu options showing ADFS.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Select the checkbox to confirm the prerequisites and click Next.
  7. If your AD FS server certificate is signed by a publicly trusted Certificate Authority, click Next. If you are using a self-signed certificate, add the AD FS root CA certificate added to the Trusted Root Certificates Store.
    1. Click Browse.
    2. Navigate to the certificate and click Open.
    3. Click Next.
  8. Copy the redirect URIs.
    You will need them when you create the AD FS Application Group in the next step.
  9. Create an OpenID Connect configuration in AD FS.

    To establish a relying party trust between vCenter Server and an identity provider, you must establish the identifying information and a shared secret between them. In AD FS, you do so by creating an OpenID Connect configuration known as an Application Group, which consists of a Server application and a Web API. The two components specify the information that vCenter Server uses to trust and communicate with the AD FS server. To enable OpenID Connect in AD FS, see the VMware knowledge base article at

    Note the following when you create the AD FS Application Group.

    • You need the two Redirect URIs from the previous step.
    • Copy the following information to a file or write it down for use when configuring the identity provider in the next step.
      • Client Identifier
      • Shared Secret
      • OpenID address of the AD FS server
  10. Enter the Application Group information and click Next.
    Use the information you gathered in the previous step and enter the:
    • Client Identifier
    • Shared Secret
    • OpenID address of the AD FS server
  11. Enter user and group information for the Active Directory over LDAP connection to search for users and groups.
    vCenter Server derives the AD domain to use for authorization and permissions from the Base Distinguished Name for users. You can add permissions on vSphere objects only for users and groups from this AD domain. Users or groups from AD child domains or other domains in the AD forest are not supported by vCenter Server Identity Provider Federation.
    Option Description
    Base Distinguished Name for Users Base Distinguished Name for users.
    Base Distinguished Name for Groups The base Distinguished Name for groups.
    User Name ID of a user in the domain who has a minimum of read-only access to Base DN for users and groups.
    Password ID of a user in the domain who has a minimum of read-only access to Base DN for users and groups.
    Primary Server URL Primary domain controller LDAP server for the domain.

    Use the format ldap://hostname:port or ldaps://hostname:port. The port is typically 389 for LDAP connections and 636 for LDAPS connections. For Active Directory multi-domain controller deployments, the port is typically 3268 for LDAP and 3269 for LDAPS.

    A certificate that establishes trust for the LDAPS endpoint of the Active Directory server is required when you use ldaps:// in the primary or secondary LDAP URL.

    Secondary Server URL Address of a secondary domain controller LDAP server that is used for failover.
    Certificates (for LDAPS) If you want to use LDAPS, click Browse to select a certificate.
  12. Review the information and click Submit.

What to do next

After you successfully add AD FS as an external identity provider, you can add users and groups to VMware Cloud Foundation. See Add a User or Group to VMware Cloud Foundation.