Is it possible to connect Macs® to Azure® Active Directory® (Azure AD)? The short answer is, not really. Azure AD is meant to be a user management system for Azure infrastructure, as well as a web application single sign-on (SSO) solution. Apple® is Microsoft’s® direct competitor. So, it’s unlikely that Azure AD will be offering support for Macs anytime soon. The good news is that a next generation identity provider (IdP) is making it easy to leverage Azure AD credentials for Mac systems.
Mac and Azure AD: What’s All the Fuss About?
Generally, Microsoft has advised their customers to leverage the on-prem Active Directory (AD) platform as the core IdP. More recently, they recommended adding the cloud-based Azure AD to complement AD on-prem. IT organizations would connect the legacy AD to Azure AD via Azure AD Connect, which is an identity bridge between the two. Identities stored in AD would then be federated to Azure AD and then subsequently Azure AD DS for use within Azure, and could extend to various web applications.
AD + Azure AD Connect + Azure AD + Azure AD DS can have positive results for IT organizations that primarily leverage Windows® resources and Azure infrastructure. The challenge for IT admins arises when non-Windows resources are in use, either on-prem or in the cloud. A few examples of non-Windows IT resources are macOS® and Linux® systems, or perhaps AWS® cloud infrastructure. For these use cases, IT admins often end up having to purchase a number of third-party add-ons to AD, and now to Azure AD as well.
For example, IT admins will need Azure AD Connect just to connect AD and Azure AD. Next, they need a directory extension for Macs, and probably Linux too. Many IT organizations also leverage AWS cloud infrastructure. So, add in a privileged identity management (PIM) solution. Then, IT admins need to secure their networks. So, add in a two-factor authentication (2FA) solution and perhaps a RADIUS server. Each sold separately. This pattern repeats itself over and over in AD environments as IT networks diversify. It seems the trait has been passed on to Azure AD as well. And, while an entire ecosystem of Windows-centric solutions would have organizations continue down this path, IT admins simply cannot patch their AD + Azure AD infrastructure indefinitely.
IT admins are realizing that the path forward is to find a neutral cloud identity provider that can connect users to their IT resources, regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. In particular, IT admins are seeking cloud identity management solutions that can integrate seamlessly with Azure AD and G Suite™. Thus, providing users with a common set of credentials that can be used across other IT resources, such as authenticating Macs with Azure AD credentials. So, while IT organizations would still require a liaison of sorts to connect Macs to Azure AD, IT admins would be able to provide a single set of credentials that users can leverage for access to their Mac systems, Azure infrastructure, and a wide range of other IT resources.
This is achievable with the JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® platform.
Connect Macs to Azure AD via JumpCloud
JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a comprehensive cloud IdP that seamlessly integrates with a wide variety of software solutions and IT resources. This includes Windows, macOS, and Linux-based systems, cloud infrastructure at Azure, AWS, and GCP, local and virtual file storage systems (e.g., Samba, QNAP, FreeNAS), and remote networks spanning multiple locations. In doing so, IT admins can provide a single, secure set of credentials that users can leverage throughout the network. More specifically, users can gain access to their Mac system as well as Azure infrastructure with the same password.