Cloud Directory Feature O365™ Integration

Written by Jon Griffin on April 10, 2018

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We are seeing Microsoft shift their customer base to the cloud more and more as of late, and the majority of this movement is being driven from their productivity solutions. Microsoft® Office®  and Exchange® have been re-imagined into the cloud version Office 365, and the adoption of this cloud tool has been incredibly high. However, this adoption has also created ripple effects throughout the IT infrastructure. One key area under pressure today with this migration to the cloud is Microsoft Active Directory®. Fortunately there is a new cloud directory feature for O365 integration that is changing the game for IT organizations, but it’s important to understand why it’s needed as well.

One Foot in the Cloud and One Foot On-Prem

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Despite Microsoft’s desire to shift their customer base to the cloud in many areas, there is one area where they aren’t as willing. This is in the directory services market. Microsoft has had a lockdown on the market share of directory services for nearly two decades now, and they are not willing to give that up. By moving to a cloud directory, admins gain more flexibility in what solutions they want to use in their infrastructure. This means less Microsoft, and more choice. It’s clear why Microsoft doesn’t want to go that route.

Microsoft does have a cloud platform named Azure® Active Directory, and many IT admins have assumed that Azure AD is the successor to the on-prem Active Directory. However, this is not the case. Azure AD is not cloud AD, and this is even confirmed in a Spiceworks thread by a Microsoft representative. In the thread, he says:

“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.”

So, as the Spiceworks response cements, Azure AD isn’t a replacement to Active Directory, but rather a complement.

Finding a Way to Migrate to the Cloud

The challenge for IT admins is that they aren’t looking to keep their IT management tools on-prem while they shift core IT resources to the cloud. While it may be the preferred way for Microsoft, it only creates challenges and lengthy workarounds for IT organizations. Admins would assume that shifting to Office 365 would enable them to leverage Azure AD, but that, as we now know, isn’t a viable option. It’s clear that IT admins no longer want to keep their directory on-prem, and as a result a new generation of identity management platform is needed.

Fortunately, such a solution exists. With the innovative platform JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®, IT admins can move their directory to the cloud along with the IT management tools they decide to use. Because the JumpCloud platform is completely vendor neutral, admins can decide to use any resources they choose, so they’re no longer forced to be locked-in with a particular vendor. This new approach is a reimagination of Active Directory for the cloud era.

But what if I want to stay with Office 365? Not a problem. A key component of the cloud directory is it’s feature to integrate with O365. This integration enables the importation and exportation of users from O365, allowing users to have one set of credentials for their systems, applications, files, and networks.

Test the Cloud Directory Feature O365 Integration

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The benefits of this modern cloud identity management platform are completely shifting the IT infrastructure to the cloud. No longer is there a need to manage on-prem hardware, software, data centers, security, and availability. With JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, all of that is taken care of for you.

Interested in testing the directory or its cloud directory feature O365 integration? It’s easy! Just sign up for a free account. There’s no credit card required, and you get 10 free users and full access to the platform. This way, you can see exactly how JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service works for you. Want to see a demo instead? That’s an option too. You can sign up for our weekly live demo here. If you ever have any questions, make sure you contact us.

With productivity platforms like O365, employees are doing more faster than ever. Don’t let your directory be slowing them down. Check out a directory built for the cloud-forward age of IT.

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