With an IT landscape that is rapidly shifting and changing, many IT admins are rightfully asking when to use Azure® AD. Most are well aware that Microsoft® Active Directory® (MAD) has been the foundation of IT networks for almost twenty years, but does that make Azure Active Directory its cloud successor? Well, not exactly. Let’s take a closer look at where the need for Azure AD came from and when to use Azure AD in modern IT environments.
Azure AD Supplementary to Active Directory
First of all, we should clear up any misconceptions right out of the gate. Azure AD isn’t a replacement to Active Directory. Even according to this Microsoft representative, Azure AD is a complementary piece to the identity management puzzle for organizations. Why would Microsoft do it this way and not provide a direct cloud alternative? Well, it’s no secret that Windows® Servers have accrued billions in revenue, and Microsoft didn’t want to undercut their on-prem dominance. If they had released a direct cloud replacement, how would all their enterprise customers feel about their massive on-prem server investments?
With this in mind, it makes sense why many IT admins are confused about when to use Azure AD and when other solutions may be more helpful. In order to understand when and why Azure AD makes the most sense, we should step back to understand Microsoft’s preferred strategy and approach.
On-Prem Perimeter Breaks Down
Most organizations traditionally had Active Directory on-prem and they were able to manage their Windows-based systems, servers, and applications quite easily. The concept of the domain was an important construct and IT admins enjoyed the benefits of control through that. From this, end users were able to access whatever they needed once they logged into their Windows laptop or desktop.
However, that model started to break down as the IT networks shifted to cloud infrastructure (e.g. AWS®), web applications (e.g. Slack, GitHub, and Salesforce®), macOS® and Linux® systems, Samba file servers and NAS appliances for storage, and WiFi networks. All of (Read more...)