In organizations, employees often need access to various Azure services to perform their tasks. They can use services like SQL database or Azure container services when the system administrator assigns them a user id and password for each service. However, managing multiple user logins for each service can be a hassle for administrators, especially in organizations with over 1000 employees. Azure Active Directory (AD) helps solve this issue by enabling administrators to manage multiple user logins in a centralized manner.
What is Azure Active Directory?
- Azure Active Directory is a cloud-based, multi-tenant directory and identity management service provided by Microsoft.
- It enables administrators to manage end-user identities and access privileges.
- In organizations, employees can access various services with a single set of login credentials, while application developers can use Azure AD to provide single sign-on access to apps.
- Azure AD also provides APIs to developers that allow them to work with existing data within the organization.
- There are four tiers of Azure AD service and pricing, ranging from free basic features to additional features with extra monthly subscriptions.
Before implementing Azure AD, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. These include licensing options, choosing the right scenario (Azure AD or Hybrid Azure AD), Single Sign-On (SSO) configuration, and user provisioning options.
Licensing– Azure AD comes with a different monthly subscription. Basically, there are four license levels– Free, Office 365 Apps, Premium P1, and Premium P2. The Premium tier gives additional features like advanced password protection, self-service password management for your users, and advanced group access management.
Choose your scenario– Azure AD or Hybrid Azure AD? If we are using cloud-only infrastructure, Azure AD is the better possible solution. For the Hybrid environment, you can go with Managed or Federated configurations.
SSO– If we will enable Single Sign-on(SSO) with Azure AD then we need to configure our cloud apps and services to use the Azure SSO.
User Provisioning- How can we add our existing users to Azure? You can set up self-enrollment where users run the process themselves or have an admin enroll your users.
How Does Azure Active Directory Work?
Azure AD is a cloud-based system that uses REST APIs to pass data between systems and cloud applications. It is a flat, single-tenant structure that allows administrators to control access and authorization within the tenant. Users and groups are the basic building blocks of Azure AD, and custom domains can be added to make the transition to the new system smoother for users. Microsoft provides several security enhancements and tools for Azure AD and Microsoft 365 to protect organization data in the cloud.
Users and Groups-
Users and groups are the basic building blocks for Azure AD. We can further organize users into groups that will all behave similarly. For example, you may put your Application team in one Azure AD group and grant permissions at the group level, so when users leave the organization, you only need to deactivate one account, and the rest of the group stays the same.
Adding a custom domain to Azure AD will reduce the hassle that your users experience as they migrate to the new system. The default Azure AD domain looks like this @testazuredomain.onmicrosoft.com.If you configured Azure AD to use a domain that you own, your users would thank you. It would look something like @testazuredomain.com instead. It is much easier to deal with.
Microsoft provides enhancements and tools to Azure AD and Microsoft 365 to further secure and protect your organization’s data in the cloud. Here are a few more options that you can enable to keep your organization more secure
- Block legacy protocols that have security issues, like SMTP, POP3.
- Integrate applications with Azure AD to enable Single Sign-On (SSO).
- Automate application provisioning to new users based on group membership.
- Restrict user’s ability to consent to applications – this can be a phishing attack, and once the user clicks, the attacker has control of your tenant.
- Enable Microsoft Cloud Access Security (MCAS) to provide monitoring inside your tenant.
In summary, Azure Active Directory simplifies the process of managing user and group authorization and access by providing a single identity system for cloud and on-premises applications. It also enables the secure use of personal devices and collaboration with business partners and customers.
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Blog Pundits: Mehul Sharma and Sandeep Rawat
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