What is Microsoft® Active Directory®?

Microsoft Active Directory

What is Microsoft® Active Directory® or MAD / AD as it is also known? Well, Microsoft AD is one of the most critical pieces of software that has ever been created. In fact, most organizations have used Active Directory at some point or another and a significant number will continue to use it. But, as the IT landscape continues to morph, is this critical piece of software all that valuable to organizations moving further into the cloud era?

What Era Was Microsoft Active Directory Made For?

In order to really understand the benefits of Microsoft Active Directory, we need to peer back in time to get a grasp on why AD was created in the first place. In the 1980s and 1990s (eons ago in terms of IT) organizations started to put computers on their workers’ desks. These systems were almost always Windows-based PCs. Over time, the PCs were networked together into local area networks (LANs). The problem was, there was nothing unifying these machines or enabling IT admins to properly secure them. In order to control access to these PCs and other IT resources—applications, servers, and the network itself—Microsoft delivered Active Directory in 1999, an LDAP / Kerberos-based directory services platform built to manage Windows® user identities and their access to AD domain bound IT resources.

When you consider the IT environments of that time, it makes sense that AD would go on to be as popular as it was. Most organizations were Windows-centric and all of their IT resources were on-prem. These simple facts helped Microsoft dominate the directory services market—largely because it was a case of synergy between products—and Windows systems worked best when governed by Windows solutions.

Along with the domain controller, AD would be able to authenticate users to the network with one set of credentials via the user’s Windows-based machine. Users could then access whatever IT resources they needed that were connected to the domain. For the majority of organizations out there, this approach worked really well. But, as time passed, new resources introduced to IT environments would make it (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Blog – JumpCloud authored by Ryan Squires. Read the original post at: https://jumpcloud.com/blog/what-is-microsoft-active-directory/