As small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) look to move their directory services to the cloud, many IT admins wonder whether Microsoft® Azure® Active Directory (Azure AD or AAD) is the right fit.
Below, we’ll detail what SMBs should typically look for in a cloud directory service, and what boxes AAD checks in regard to authentication, scalability, and security.
What Are SMBs Looking for in a Cloud Directory Service?
There are a number of resources that IT admins need to manage for organizations of all sizes, and directory services aim to make that management simple and secure. When Microsoft introduced Active Directory® (AD), it simplified the process of managing access to Windows®-bound, on-prem resources.
However, with the introduction of macOS® devices, Linux® systems, web applications, and wireless networks into workplace culture, IT admins have struggled to use AD to manage all user resources. Many have considered moving to a cloud-based directory service to eliminate the costly maintenance of AD’s on-prem infrastructure and authenticate user credentials to the assets they commonly utilize.
One such consideration includes Azure Active Directory, which was introduced as a substrate identity management tool that authenticates users to the Azure platform. In fact, many IT admins using Azure AD are interested in its ability to natively authenticate and secure IT resources, as well as its cost-efficiency with regard to scalability.
The ideal cloud directory service authenticates users to their systems, applications, networks, and files from a single console. As a standalone service, Azure AD authenticates Azure credentials to select web applications, including G Suite™ and Office 365™, via the SAML 2.0 and OAuth protocols.
In addition, AAD authenticates user credentials to Windows® 10 Pro systems, but it does not employ group policy objects (GPOs) for those systems. Beyond that, admins using AAD need to find other solutions for authenticating users to:
- Networks via RADIUS
- On-prem LDAP-based applications and file servers
- Legacy Windows systems, macOS devices, and Linux servers hosted in AWS®
For SMBs looking for a cloud IdP, AAD will likely meet some but not all (Read more…)