Switching SP2010 from Classic Mode to Claims Mode Authentication

SharePoint Server 2013 uses claims-based authentication as its default authentication model, and it is required to enable its advanced functionality. Using claims-based authentication has the following advantages over using Windows classic-mode authentication:

  • External SharePoint apps support. App authentication and server-to-server authentication rely on claims-based authentication. With Windows classic-mode authentication you are unable to use external SharePoint apps. You also cannot use any services that rely on a trust relationship between SharePoint and other server platforms, such as Office Web Apps Server 2013, Exchange Server 2013, and Lync Server 2013.
  • Claims delegation without “double-hop” limitation. SharePoint can delegate claims identities to back-end services, regardless of the sign-in method. E.g., suppose your users are authenticated by NTLM authentication. NTLM has a well-known “double-hop” limitation, which means that a service such as SharePoint cannot impersonate the user to access other resources on behalf of the user, such as SQL Server databases or web services. When you use claims-mode authentication, SharePoint can use the claims-based identity token to access resources on behalf of the user.
  • Multiple authentication providers per one web application. When you create a web application in claims-based authentication mode, you can associate multiple authentication providers with the web application. It means, that, for example, you can support Windows-based sign in and forms-based sign in without creating additional IIS websites and extending your web application to additional zones.
  • Open standards. Claims-based authentication is based on open web standards and is supported by a broad range of platforms and services

There are several supported scenarios for migrating or converting from classic mode to claims mode authentication which performed with use of a number of Windows PowerShell cmdlets: you either switch your web apps on SP2010 before upgrade to SP2013 or you can convert SharePoint Server 2010 classic-mode web applications to SharePoint Server 2013 claims-mode web applications after you have SP2013 installed already.

Steps to switch your SP2010 web apps to claims based authentication:

1. Enable claims authentication for your web app.

$WebAppName = "http://portal.denallix.com" 

$wa = get-SPWebApplication $WebAppName

$wa.UseClaimsAuthentication = $true


2. Configure the policy to provide the user with full access.

$account = "Denallix\Administrator" 

$account = (New-SPClaimsPrincipal -identity $account -identitytype 1).ToEncodedString()

$wa = get-SPWebApplication $WebAppName

$zp = $wa.ZonePolicies("Default")

$p = $zp.Add($account,"PSPolicy")




3. Perform the migration.


4. Provision claims


Once done you with these changes may verify that you are using Claims Authentication for your web application:

GUI way. In Central Administration navigate to web application management, select your Web Application and click on Authentication Providers button:

SP 2010 check web app authentication mode 01

It will open a window where you can verify your default authentication mode:

SP 2010 check web app authentication mode 02

 PowerShell way:

$web = Get-SPWebApplication "http://portal.denallix.com" 


It will return True or False depending on whether you have Claims Authentication enabled or not (screenshot below for enabled state):

SP 2010 check web app authentication mode 03

In case you have K2 components installed you may need to perform relevant configuration changes on K2 side (see Claims Authentication Configuration section at help.k2.com) which I will cover in separate blog post.

In case if you are in a mood for deep dive into what & why of claims authentication subject you may read through the following articles:

Identity (Management) Crisis (Part 1): The evolution of identity concepts

Identity (Management) Crisis (Part 2): Everything you (think you) know is wrong

Identity (Management) Crisis (Part 3): Solving the Identity Problem

Identity (Management) Crisis (Part 4): Selecting a Comprehensive Identity Management solution

Claims Based Identity: What does it Mean to You? (Part 1)

Claims Based Identity: What does it Mean to You? (Part 2)

Claims Based Identity: What does it Mean to You? (Part 3)

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