An Active Directory - colloquially just called the AD - is in many ways the cornerstone of any IT infrastructure. This is where you manage and secure users, roles and identities.
With Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), the built-in identity management solution in Microsoft 365, Microsoft now opens up new possibilities if you consider a hybrid server solution. In Azure AD, you can centralize your identity and access management and thus better secure your IT environment and users.
Azure Active Directory is the next development of cloud identity and access management solutions. Microsoft introduced Active Directory Domain Services in Windows 2000 to enable organizations to manage multiple on-premises infrastructure components and systems using a single identity per user.
Azure AD takes this approach to the next level by providing organizations with an Identity as a Service solution (IDaaS) for all their apps across the cloud and on-premises. Most IT administrators are familiar with Active Directory Domain Services concepts. If you would like to see the exact differences and similarities between Active Directory concepts and Azure Active Directory you can click here
Active Directory (AD) is a database and set of services that connect users with the network resources they need to get their work done.
The database (or folder) contains critical information about your environment, including which users and computers there are and who is allowed to do what. For example, the database can list 100 user accounts with details such as each person's job title, phone number, and password. It will also register their permits.
The services control much of the activity that takes place in your IT environment. In particular, they make sure that each person is who they claim to be (authentication), usually by checking the user ID and password they enter, and giving them access only to the data they are allowed to use (authorization ).
Think of Active Directory as the "contacts" app on your mobile device. The actual "Contacts" app would be your Active Directory. Your individual contacts would be the "objects", and the address, email, and phone information for each contact would be the "values" in your Active Directory. The "objects" are not limited to people and users. It can also contain "group objects", such as computers, printers, and so on.
Active Directory helps you organize your company's users, computer and more. Your IT administrator uses AD to organize your company's complete hierarchy from which computers belong on which network, to what your profile picture looks like or which users have access to the storage space.
So what's the core of how this service introduced in Windows 2000 works? Well, Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is part of the Windows Server operating system. The servers running AD DS are called domain controllers (DCs).
Back in the days of Windows NT Server, there was a specific role, the primary domain controller (PDC), which was specified to hold many of the key roles across the domain among the other DCs.
Organizations typically have multiple DCs for redundancy, performance, and business continuity. Each one has a copy of the directory for the entire domain. Changes to the library on one domain controller - such as password updating or deleting a user account - are rebuilt using a replication service for the other DCs so that they all stay up to date.
In addition, the form of the database central to AD DS includes the various attributes that each person, group, or computer may have.
There are several benefits to IT people using AD DS in your organization:
The biggest benefit of implementing Active Directory for your users is a centralized "token" to log in to their computer. Instead of needing this user account to access the resources on this server and another to server two and so on, you can assign "tokens" to a single account that a user can use for seamless access to resources and printers across the enterprise.
As companies use more and more cloud-based solutions, their data is also becoming more and more vulnerable to cybercrime, such as hacker attacks and a wide variety of cybercrime. Therefore, one should increase his focus and his efforts in relation to cloud security, both internally and externally.
With Azure AD you can (via AD Connect) connect your local AD to various external services and thus optimize security.
In practice, this means that, for example, your users can use single sign-on, also for third-party services. In this way, they do not have to go around remembering many, different passwords (with the risk that passwords will be written down, or that you choose very simple and thus insecure passwords to be able to remember them).
In Azure AD, you can choose to set up two-factor authentication. You can also set up advanced logging and monitor user behavior in real time to further increase the level of security.
When your local AD is connected to Azure AD, you can synchronize the two environments. For example, if an employee leaves the company, you can deactivate or delete the employee's local AD user - the smart thing is that he or she is automatically logged out of all systems in Azure AD at the same time. You thus get a much greater data security.
Azure AD is for almost any business or organization out there. We have not yet encountered an environment that did not use or needed Active Directory Domain Services. AD simplifies the lives of administrators and end users while increasing the security of organizations.
Administrators and end users share the centralized user and rights management as well as centralized control over computer and user configurations through the AD Group Policy feature. Users can authenticate once and then seamlessly access all resources on the domain to which they are authorized (single sign-on).
Plus, files are stored in a central repository where they can be shared with other users to facilitate collaboration and backed up properly by IT teams to ensure business continuity.
The world of cloud computing expands with each passing day; Many companies across the globe are switching to the cloud by leveraging the services that cloud platforms offer. Microsoft Azure is the second largest cloud service provider and gaining expertise in it will definitely put you at the forefront of cloud computing.
If you want to enjoy all the possibilities of Azure AD, it requires maintenance and development - just like local server solutions.
If you want to get smarter on Azure AD, sign up for a free trial subscription for a month - read more here.
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"Think of Active Directory as the "contacts" app on your mobile device. The actual "Contacts" app would be your Active Directory." |
"As companies use more and more cloud-based solutions, their data is also becoming more and more vulnerable to cybercrime, such as hacker attacks and a wide variety of cybercrime. Therefore, one should increase his focus and his efforts in relation to cloud security, both internally and externally." |
”If you want to enjoy all the possibilities of Azure AD, it requires maintenance and development - just like local server solutions." |