By Greg Keller Posted January 19, 2017
IT admins are asking whether there is a path for Azure Active Directory migration. With the introduction of Azure AD and since most of the world already runs Microsoft Active Directory, it’s a fair question.
Nearly everything on-prem is moving to the cloud anyway. AWS, G Suite, Office 365, and many other traditionally on-prem capabilities are now shifting to the cloud. So, can the central identity provider shift to the cloud as well?
The answer is yes, but not in the way that you think.
The Real Azure Active Directory Migration Path
Azure Active Directory isn’t a replacement to Active Directory. Think of Azure AD as a user management system for your Azure-related resources.
To learn more about it, see this thread on Spiceworks:
Azure Active Directory is not designed to be the cloud version of Active Directory. It is not a domain controller or a directory in the cloud that will provide the exact same capabilities with AD. It actually provides many more capabilities in a different way.
That’s why there is no actual “migration” path from Active Directory to Azure Active Directory. You can synchronize your on-premises directories (Active Directory or other) to Azure Active Directory but not migrate your computer accounts, group policies, OU etc.
As you can see here Azure Active Directory is an identity and access management solution for hybrid or cloud-only implementations. It can extend the reach of your on-premises identities to any SaaS application hosted in any cloud. It can provide secure remote access to on-premises applications that you want to publish to external users. It can be the center of your cross-organization collaboration by providing access for your partners to your resources. It provides identity management to your consumer-facing application by using social identity providers. Cloud app discovery, Multi-Factor Authentication, protection of your identities in the cloud, reporting of Sign-ins from possibly infected devices, leaked credentials report, user behavioral analysis are a few additional things that we couldn’t even imagine with the traditional Active Directory on-premises.
Even the recently announced Azure Active Directory Domain Services are not a usual DC as a service that you could use to replicate your existing Active Directory implementation to the cloud. It is a stand-alone service that can offer domain services to your Azure VMs and your directory-aware applications if you decide to move them to Azure infrastructure services. But with no replication to any other on-premises or cloud (in a VM) domain controller.
If you want to migrate your domain controllers in the cloud to use them for traditional task you could deploy domain controllers in Azure Virtual Machines and replicate via VPN.
So to conclude, if you would like to extend the reach of your identities to the cloud you can start by synchronizing your Active Directory to Azure AD.
Considering the Alternative
It’s not surprising that IT admins are turning to the true cloud-hosted directory services as the replacement to Active Directory instead. It is called Directory-as-a-Service® and serves as the identity management platform to connect user identities to systems, applications, and networks regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location.
IT organizations don’t need to think about an Azure Active Directory migration so much as a replacement to Active Directory that can be the next-generation cloud directory service. In addition to Microsoft Windows platforms, Directory-as-a-Service seamlessly integrates with Mac, Linux, G Suite, AWS, and Google Cloud, among others. It also steps up your security and control over systems with multi-factor authentication and GPO-like functions across platforms. Think of Directory-as-a-Service as your central, cloud-based identity provider.
Think JumpCloud® Before Migrating to Azure AD
Considering an Azure Active Directory migration? Turn to Directory-as-a-Service, the Active Directory replacement, instead. Give it a try for yourself – sign up for a free account. Your first 10 users are free forever.