What is Azure® AD (Active Directory®? Is it a cloud alternative to Microsoft®’s leading on-prem directory service, Active Directory? What can Azure AD do? If you’ve been asking these questions, you’re not alone. Microsoft has confused a number of IT admins with its naming of Azure Active Directory, and many can’t help but initially think of Azure AD as a replacement to the on-prem Active Directory. However, that’s not really the case. So, to help clear things up for IT professionals, this blog post will serve as a breakdown of Azure AD. And that starts with taking a look at it’s on-prem namesake, Active Directory.
What to Know About Active Directory
The concept of Active Directory has been around for almost two decades, and it has served as the core, authoritative identity provider for many organizations. Historically, Active Directory Domain Services has enabled a user to login to their Windows® machine when connected to the network and gain access to virtually any Windows-based IT resource they were entitled to. Not only did this make life a breeze for end users, but IT admins were also able to centrally manage their entire IT environment. Needless to say, this approach to directory services worked incredibly well for a long period of time.
As the IT landscape started to shift, though, Microsoft’s on-prem digital kingdom started to experience pressure from the likes of Google with G Suite™ (formerly Google Apps) and AWS® with their cloud infrastructure. In an effort to keep their skin in the game, Microsoft fought back by releasing their own cloud offering, the Azure platform.
What is Azure?
The strategy with Azure was to shift a great deal of the on-prem Microsoft business to the cloud in order to compete with G Suite and AWS. So, Microsoft introduced Office 365™ and Azure infrastructure services. Microsoft started to move many of their on-prem services to the cloud, but as IT admins quickly realized, it wasn’t a one-to-one mapping. Microsoft’s incredible legacy product and customer base was a huge profit center, so they were interested in (Read more...)